festival welcomes old-fashioned family participation and is as
interactive as any video game.
Even Logan County's farm kids learned a few old tricks this weekend.
Participants could try their hand at a variety of early American
working crafts, such as woodworking, candle making, needlework,
spinning, chair caning, lace making and quilting.
The pioneer village depicted a family making apple butter (a
nine-hour process), smoking meats in a smokehouse, raising barnyard
animals and laundering out-of-doors.
kids frolicked among the cabins and sites as they relived the
adventures of their ancestors.
nostalgic scenario was that of a pre-1840 fur trapper and his wife,
who camped in a Plains Indian style teepee. Sam “Little Hawk”
Schriber tells the yarn that his beloved wife, Kathy, was “held
captive by Indians.”
traded six horses, two mules and a gun to get her back,” Sam
chuckled. Kathy noted that the story “gets bigger and bigger all the
mountain-man camp was equipped with all the amenities of an early
19th-century fur trader, who might have acquired his teepee from his
Sioux or Cheyenne bride. This rendition might have been located west
of the Mississippi, where beaver trapping was more prevalent.
Kathy, natives of New Holland, have been setting up their 14-foot
teepee at the Railsplitter Festival for four years. They also travel
to several other fests in Illinois and Missouri. Sam reports that he
made Kathy's dark brown vat-dried deerskin dress, along with his elk-skin pants. He also sported a buffalo ski cape for those cold winter
nights on the prairie. The family camped out at the festival this
weekend, staying dry and toasty in their teepee.
According to Nancy Kleinman, president of the Railsplitting
Association, a lot of work goes into preparing for the annual
festival. In fact, committees will meet this October in preparation
for next year's Railsplitter.
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must send out contracts for next year's vendors,” which include
crafts, flea markets, and, of course, those delicious foods. “Many
local organizations use this festival as a fund-raiser,” she said.
delicacies such as pulled barbecue sandwiches, rib-eye steaks and
chops, funnel cakes, tornado potatoes, kettle corn, lemonade
shake-ups, and caramel apples, who could argue with this logic?
available were displays, including handmade, intricate quilts as
well as historic displays from local communities. One could also
ride on a child-sized steam engine or sit on a pony.
A 2 p.m.
parade showed off antique tractors and cars. There was also an
antique bicycle show and swap meet.
with the food, rows and rows of crafts were available for purchase.
Halloween and Christmas décor, as well as any knickknack thinkable,
was there this weekend. And of course, the flea market full of
potential treasures offered an assortment of goodies for the bargain
was also a mainstay for the festival. Ann and Steve Siltman, along
with Patricia Rankin, led the Sunday morning non-denominational
worship service. The Prairie Aires offered hymns played on recorders
and stringed instruments. And the Civil War band, decked in full
Union uniforms, inspired the crowd with “When Johnny Comes Marching
highlight of the Railsplitter Festival has always been the contests
of skill, strength, and speed. No ordinary sports, these events
include activities of daily living for a family who might have lived
during the era of Abraham Lincoln in Logan County. These include
events in logrolling, crosscut sawing, rail toss, tomahawk
throwing, goat milking, corn shelling and railsplitting. Also
included were 19th-century pioneer games that children of that era
might have played.