This is a rare slow time at the Gentry Gourds booth at the Kalamazoo Living History Show. We were placed in one of three exhibit halls that are all full of merchants that represent time periods from the 1750s through the 1890s.
It is nice not having to setup a tent, brave the weather, and carry all of the things we use at a reenactment, especially in March. Being our first indoor event, we were a little unsure how things would go, like where we would dig the fire pit.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and we were able to stop the truck and trailer right in front of our site to unload. Â We must have timed it right because there was an almost constant parade of trucks, trailers, and RVs passing on the path as we worked. Â I found myself helping several of the larger vehicles navigate the tight spaces between the parked ones, especially one gentleman in an old Ryder truck that was determined to rip the front bumper off my little truck after it was caught by his exhaust pipe. Â I ended up having to move the pickup over to let him by.
After we had everything out, I was able to find a pull through parking spot not far from the gate. Â I’m not very good at backing up the trailer, so I was glad to find it.
Day one (Friday) was school kid day, and there were a lot of them! Â Here is the conversation we had a thousand times:
“Oh look, bird houses. Â What are these?”
“What are gourds?”
I worry for the quality of education in Indiana.
Day two was a pretty good day, crowd wise. Â Even though our spot was towards the end of the road, we still had plenty of visitors, partly because they had to walk past us to get to the facilities. Â We had great conversations with those that stopped by, many of whom had dried gourds in their barn or shed that they didn’t know what to do with. Â (Apparently, their kids haven’t learned about those things in the barn)
It all changed though in the mid afternoon when the rain came. Â Boy, did it ever rain! Â Our fairly new tent held up well and kept the water out, although I did get pretty soaked trying to close the sides. Â The last battle of the day went on as planed (after all, the original battle was in snow), but the crowd thinned out fast.
We decided to skip the participant dance because of all the mud, and instead went into town for Chinese food (just as our 19th century ancestors would have done)
After more rain during the night, we woke to a muddy park. Â During my first walk of the day, I slipped and fell on wet grass, getting my new shirt and pants muddy. Â Good morning! Â Walking around to retrieve breakfast, I noticed that many of the spots back in the trees were pretty sloppy. Â There was definitely an advantage to being located at the far end of the road.
All morning, we heard the sound of trucks stuck in the mud, including a large trash truck that took 2 1/2 hours to extract. Â The tow trucks were quite busy.
At closing time, we decided to pack up as much as possible before pulling the truck and trailer up to our spot (unlike most, who felt the need to clog up the road as soon as the gate opened). Â When I finally did go to drive up, I learned how lucky I was to find that parking spot, as I had no problem traversing the short section of road into the park. Â Those that had parked down in the low parts of the field were still being towed – one at a time.
We drove through one more nasty rain storm before arriving home after 9:30.
After a little rain on Friday, the sun came out Saturday morning and dried up the mud, and the temps were in the 60s both days. Plenty of sunshine helped keep everyone warm (and gave both of us sunburns!). Â Only worrisome part of the weather was the strong wind gusts on Saturday. Â As you can imagine, gourds that weigh next to nothing tend to fly all over the place when a gust blows through. Â People walking by were happy to help us collect the strays, and closing up the sides of the tent helped keep things in place.
And there were a lot of people. Â I heard second hand that the estimated number of visitors was the highest in several years, but I can’t find a news story to confirm it. Â However, I can say that the walkways were pretty crowded both days, and we had many visitors watching Kelly’s demonstrations, asking questions, and even buying some gourds.
As usual, we enjoyed the food options. Â Kelly enjoyed the herb roasted pork chop, while I was very happy with my sausage on a stick. Â There is also this great deep fried, cinnamon sugar coated dessert with a French name I can’t spell. Â Good stuff all around.
One thing we didn’t do too much of was take pictures. Â In addition to the few I took (included above), there was one photo in the local paper that included part of our tent.