PITTSBURG, Kan. — Like so many other events in 2020, this year’s Cow Creek Living History Reenactment at the Crawford County Historical Museum will look different compared to those of past years.
"This would have been our fifth annual Living History Reenactment, and of course due to the pandemic and the ever-changing conditions that go along with COVID-19, we just made the decision to do a virtual reenactment," said Museum Director Amanda Minton.
While there will still be a battle reenactment this year, it will be done without an audience in attendance. The reenactment will be filmed, however, and combined with video clips of historical craft activities and narration to create a documentary.
Minton said she hopes to make the documentary a length that it can be shown in a class period. While it may not be completed by Labor Day weekend, when the reenactment was originally scheduled to take place, she hopes to make it available to area schools and the public by the end of October.
Although there was a known Civil War skirmish known as the Cow Creek Skirmish in 1864, Minton said the event is not necessarily a reenactment of that particular skirmish, but could represent a typical skirmish or small battle in the Kansas-Missouri border area, including those that took place between the bushwhackers and jayhawkers during the "Bleeding Kansas" period before the official start of the war.
"It gives us a glimpse into what battle was like in this area," Minton said.
Crafts that have been demonstrated at past Living History Reenactments, she said, have included historical ways of making things such as brooms and butter, weaving cloth or blankets using a loom, and basket weaving — skills that people may be able to put to practical use amid the changes to their routines brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It seems like everything’s kind of coming around," Minton said. "I see more people who are gardening, who are canning, who are cooking and baking because we were quarantined and people were staying home more and doing more home-made activities together, so I think this is wonderful and this is just going to be an extension of our reenactment."
Since the first Living History event several years ago, Minton said, the museum has worked with the Turkey Creek Fusiliers reenactment group from Jasper County, Missouri, and other reenactors have since joined in the event. Last year was the largest reenactment so far, Minton said, with 40 to 50 reenactors, along with more than two dozen craftsmen.
"Our favorite part is the school tours, and that’s what we’re going to miss the most, because every reenactor, every craftsman, they love talking with the students," she said. "They love the questions, they love it when they take them through, we never know what they’re going to say, and so it just makes it worth all the planning."
In past years the Cow Creek Living History Reenactment has also been a fundraiser, and the museum is continuing to accept donations, which will go toward funding the documentary project. Visit www.crawfordcountymuseum.com for more information or contact the museum at 620-231-1440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.