WILD, WILD WEST
Flash back to the days when gold was discovered in California and gunfights were not uncommon. Old West Days, celebrated in collaboration with the migration of the Death Valley forty-niners, transforms Shoshone, Calif., into a scene right out of a Western movie. The celebration takes place Nov. 2-4. Participate in a costume contest, or visit the Shoshone Museum to brush up on your history. Take a tour of the Amargosa Desert on a trail ride. Feed your appetite at the deep-pit barbecue. If you feel like relaxing, watch the Native American dancers perform, or listen to cowboy poetry. Call (760) 852-4224 or visit <gocalif.ca.gov/calendar/calquery.cgi>.
FEAST YOUR EYES ON LINCOLN
NEW SALEM, ILLINOIS
If you’ve ever wondered what life was like when Abraham Lincoln was alive, then you need to experience Harvest Feast. See where Lincoln lived for six years, and watch period interpreters prepare for winter as they would in his day. Located at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site just 20 miles northwest of Springfield, the festival takes place Nov. 3-4. Stroll through the 19th-century historic village’s log homes and stores. Watch the militia march in the parade. Join in a corn-husking contest, sample baked goods prepared on an open hearth, or get swept away on a horse-drawn wagon ride. If you’re starved for knowledge, catch the Abraham Lincoln orientation at the visitor’s center. Call (217) 632-4000 or visit <www.state.il.us/hpa/calendar/dateorder.htm>.
Recapture the true spirit of Christmas at Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas <www.silverdollarcity.com>. Experience quality music, crafts and entertainment in a wholesome environment, Nov. 3-Dec. 30. Interpreters, carolers, artists and musicians will take you back in time 100 years. Visit the theme park’s City Square every evening for the lighting of a five-story Christmas tree. Join in a sing-along on the park’s authentic steam train. Then stroll to the Red Gold Heritage Hall, where you can see a re-enactment of the night Jesus was born. If you work up an appetite, feast on the apple dumplings, S’mores and gingerbread cookies you’ll find throughout the park. Admission to Silver Dollar City for the festival is $29 for adults and $18 for children ages 4 to 11. Call (800) 952-6626 or see the Web site.
MASTER OF MANY TRADES
Are you still stuffed the two days following Thanksgiving? Perhaps a visit to an authentic Appalachian festival is just the activity you need. Observe working demonstrators master the art of weaving, broom making, quilting and pottery crafting. The Festival of Mountain Masters showcases the crafts and ways of life at the turn of the century. The festival will take place Nov. 23-24. Also featured is an Appalachian author and storyteller. And if you consider yourself a master of quilting or photography, you can enter one of the contests. Visit <www.kentuckytourism.com> or call (606) 573-2900.
HOME SWEET HOME
The prospect of settling free land drove people of diverse backgrounds west when Congress passed the Homestead Act in 1862. Today, the result of that migration can be seen at Homestead National Monument’s Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures. The festival will take place Nov. 26-Dec. 31 and will highlight cultural and ethnic celebrations that occur around the world during that time. You can see the exhibit of traditionally decorated trees, and observe the winter solstice in Wales. Pick up a Norwegian recipe, or listen in on a reading. If you can’t make it to the festival during the week, participate in one of the special Sunday holiday programs Dec. 2, 9 and 16. Call (402) 223-3514 or visit <www.nps.gov/home/events.html>.
SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
Escape the madness of Christmas shopping by stepping back in time to 19th-century America, when the holidays were simpler and less commercialized. Learn a period dance, listen to strolling musicians, make candles, or gaze at a replica of New England’s first Christmas tree. Enjoy the relaxation of what was a transitional time for pioneers at The Beginnings of a New England Christmas in Old Sturbridge Village Dec. 2, 9 and 16. Call (800) SEE-1830 or visit <www.osv.org>.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The Daniel Boone Homestead was not only the residence of its namesake but also home to an English and German family. Come see how these three unique families celebrated Christmas on Dec. 9. A Homestead Christmas will feature costumed interpreters and decorated parlors that reflect the Christmas customs of the German and English families, as well as Boone’s Quaker family. Children will be delighted when the German Christkindel, bearing sweet treats and toys, arrives on the back of a donkey. They can also expect to meet the Belsnickel, a German version of Santa Claus who keeps track of who’s been naughty. Call (610) 582-4900 or visit <www.phmc.state.pa.us/BHSM/toh/boone/danielboone.htm>.
From the December 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine