A man sharpens a hatchet. Another picks up a firearm. Beside them is a woman weaving. Animal skins are spread across tables. String music plays in the background.
Where are you? You’re at Appalachian History Night.
Every Monday night during SummitCorps, the National Park Service hosted the history night so Arrowmen could learn about and celebrate the traditions and antiquity of Appalachia.
Local artisans and actors flocked to the Glen Jean Armed Forces Reserve Center and set up stations to demonstrate their hobbies, talents and passions.
As you walked through the presentation area, you could spot weavers, broom makers, blacksmiths, Native American impersonators and musicians. And if you’re lucky, Gwendolyn McAllister would call you over to let you try some of her delicious traditional 1700s cooking.
Many of the artisans got their start in cultural displays when they were no older than the Scouts they presented to at SummitCorps. McAllister, for example, began when she was still living with her father.
[pullquote]“My father was running Fort Randolph and he was a resident blacksmith. I just started helping out there.” — Gwendolyn McAllister, local artisan[/pullquote]
“My father was running Fort Randolph and he was a resident blacksmith. I just started helping out there,” McAllister said.
Since then, she has worked hard on her cooking display for 11 years.
Of course, you couldn’t miss the rangers with the National Park Service either. The rangers held various hands-on displays about the New River Gorge, such as native wildlife and coal mining history.
Sounds like a pretty good history lesson, doesn’t it?
There’s history everywhere. What is your hometown known for?