Saturday, April 27, 2002

Festival looks backward to lives of early America

Visitors glimpse daily difficulties

By Lew Moores,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WILLIAMSBURG — The yellow school buses pulled up and unloaded, and before long the muddy field swarmed with school children as they made their way among the tents and tepees, the grounds animated by people in period costumes and the air filled with the aroma of camp fires.

[photo] Sawing a log the old-fashioned way is a lesson for Carolyn Trammell, 10, (left) and Hannah Prine, 9, fourth graders at Williamsburg Elementary School, supervised by Ralph Burns of West Union.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        About 1,400 school children attended the first day of the 10th annual Grassy Run Heritage Rendezvous at Harmony Hill here, which continues today and Sunday for the general public.

        Last year, more than 6,000 attended the three-day event, which re-creates history with a real encampment and teaches visitors about the early settlement days of Clermont County in particular, and Southwest Ohio in general.

        Last year, June Creager, executive director of the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau, called the event a “hidden jewel of the Tristate” — except that the event is no longer so hidden.

        “It's one of the best-attended events in the county,” said Rick Crawford, historian with the Clermont County Historical Society and member of the Grassy Run Historical Arts Committee, which has 200 members and sponsors the event.

   Grassy Run Heritage Rendezvous continues today and Sunday at Harmony Hill, Third and Willow streets, Williamsburg.
   Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today;10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
   Admission: $3 for adults 17 and older; $2 for ages 7 to 16; free for 6 and younger.
        “This is about education,” said Ron Shouse, Grassy Run president. “We've reached thousands of kids this way. This helps them understand their heritage, where they came from. They go to a grocery store and get food and it's so easy. Their ancestors went out into the woods and hunted.”

        The students wandered in the tepees, sawed the end off a log, threw wooden tomahawks at canvas images of bears, dipped candles, had their faces painted.

        Seth Erwin, 10, and Tyler Guenther, 10, fourth-graders at Fayetteville Elementary School in Brown County, carried questions to ask of the costumed participants. They know what a pelt is, what flint and steel are, and they learned that a “booshway” is a “person in charge,” said Seth.

        Jamie Pettrgrew, 12, a 7th-grader at St. Louis School in Owensville, was one of 28 St. Louis students at Grassy Run. She was impressed with the hardscrabble lives led by the early settlers.

        “They survived with what they could get,” said Jamie. “They relied on their resources.”

        Mary Raffel, of West Chester Township, played the role of pioneer school teacher.

        “I love to share history and let the children know that it was not easy being a pioneer,” she explained, as yet another busload of students made their way to her tent.

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