April 26, 2013

Fulton Co. living encampment brings history to life

Redbud Trail Rendezvous coming this weekend in Rochester.

by Amie Sites

ROCHESTER — A little snow didn’t stop John Timmons, Logansport, from setting up camp Wednesday evening at the Fulton County Historical Society grounds. A weaver by trade, Timmons will be doing demonstrations during this weekend’s Redbud Trail Rendezvous.

And the weather won’t stop the weekend’s festivities from happening either. Although she’s hoping for beautiful weather, Melinda Clinger said the festival will go on rain or shine. The Fulton County Historical Society Museum director has been attending the annual event since its inception 23 years ago.

More than 100 historic camps will portray time periods up through Civil War, making it a pre-1865 event. People will set up tents and live outdoors for the weekend.

Timmons has been attending the event as a demonstrator for 10 years. This year, he will be demonstrating weaving of sashes and leg ties. He said he usually sets up early and stays through the weekend.

“It’s a fun event. I like camping out,” Timmons said. “I plan to stay in the area until Monday. I’m not a fair weather camper.”

Jeff Moore, Elkhart, will set up camp and tell stories of Civil War history as well as carve duck decoys.

Additional programs will include bagpipe music by Mark Gropp; music, songs and Indian dances by Mark Woolever’s Winter Hawk Drum; and Shirley Needham, Rochester, will show birds from her wildlife rehabilitation.

Also demonstrated will be traditional crafts and skills such as bead work, spinning, cooking food over fires, blacksmith and tomahawk throwing.

Vendors will be selling time-period items such as walking sticks, wood carvings, paintings and quilts.

“A lot of people who do demonstrations from the old-time period teach people, young and old, to do things the way our ancestors did,” Clinger said. “If we lose these arts, there isn’t going to be anyone to pass them on.”

The festival usually attracts a couple thousand people, Clinger said, adding both local and out-of-state residents have attended in the past.

There are usually 50 to 100 camps set up in historical tents.

Clinger said all participants and vendors dress in period attire, but visitors don’t have to.

“The event is a way of getting history preserved and keeping people informed of history in the area,” Clinger said. “It’s also a way of getting people outside and all are welcome to join us.”

Timmons said the event is good for the family because it’s educational.

“The event is educating people through historic demonstrations,” Timmons said. “It’s a family-oriented day, and [the weather is] supposed to be nice. Grab your kids and come out.”

Amie Sites is community news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at or 574-732-5150.


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