This weekend marks the 35th Annual Little Balkans Weekend and the 4th Annual Battle for Cow Creek Living History event at the Museum. The Living History reenactment will promote the rich pre-civil war history of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas. Bushwhackers (those who swore no allegiance to either side and often united into bands of outlaws preying on both sides), and Jayhawkers (Unionist guerrillas who became synonymous with stealing and headquartered at Lawrence, Kansas, during the Civil War), will be demonstrating everyday life of the border wars leading up to the Civil War. In toll will be cannon and musket fire. Reenactments will be Saturday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with skirmishes throughout the day. So, why are living history reenactments important to attend?
One, it is remembering and honoring those who fought for what they believed in. Reenacting is about the history, about those who came before us, whether you agree or disagree with their beliefs, reenactors bring to life those people who were a diverse group, each with their own ideas, each trying to do right by their surroundings. It is important to portray those people during living history events as real people who had families and friends and even the same worries as we do today. Living history is to make us more aware of the personal aspects of daily things and remind us that those were human beings willing to lay down their life for what they believed in. Hundreds upon thousands died on the battlefields, encampments, and in hospitals.
Living history reenactments are also about reminding us to keep discussion alive and its relevance today. Reenactors show everything in its entirely; the good, bad and ugly. By showing history from what it was and avoiding in every way adding modern ideas and perspectives into it, it allows the public to understand historical events in a context that may not have previously understood. The role of a reenactor is to bring history alive in its full light that will lead to further discussion and foster those thoughts. A person needs the full picture to understand the history properly. In a small way, you can have a better understanding of what these people went through, on both sides.
Visitors will also be able to talk with civilians in period dress on how they lived their life on the home front before and during the war. A variety of 19th century skills such as blacksmithing, broom making, basket weaving, rope making, wool carding, spinning wheels, spindles, loom weaving, rug braiding, leather worker, stone carver, an herb lady, the list goes on for demonstrations being held at the museum. Each civilian has a story to share about their craft.
New additions this year include, a drummer boy, field surgeon, a woman’s work at camp, the Virginal Reel dance lesson during the Candlelight Camp Tour on Friday from 7 to 8 p.m., plus more! Did you know, dancing has relevance to the military side of the era since dancing could also be considered the first “drill” for young men who would become soldiers during the Civil War. The formation dances taught right from left, how to keep marching time, how to maneuver in a formation, and the importance of teamwork.
We also will have Dutch Oven cooking this year. If you haven’t eaten cornbread, ham and beans and pie out of a Dutch oven, you haven’t lived yet! Thanks to Buck Rowland, Shawn Pryor and others, the museum will be holding their first fundraiser beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday until sold out. For a donation of $5.00, you will not only receive a hearty bowl of cornbread and ham and beans, you will also be supporting local history.
Why attend a Reenactment? Come to the Crawford County Historical Museum at 7 to 8 p.m this Friday and at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and find out for yourself. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. is set aside for school tours. Special Shuttle Transportation will be available Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. and stopping at Little Balkans event routes every 10 minutes.