WHITE MILLS—The grounds around the Wayne County Historical Society's (WCHS) D & H Canal Park were transported back into the 19th Century on Saturday for Lock 31's 5th Annual Canal Festival.
Residents and tourists alike were treated to a full day of reenactment, revelry and rousting entertainment presented by the historical society.
“This is just a wonderful day when volunteers, artisans, bakers, you name it, they come out and try to give a little background, a little insight into what life was like during the time the canal was actually functioning … between 1828 and 1898,” said WCHS Executive Director Carol Dunn.
“The development of Wayne County would not have occurred the way that it did if it wasn't for this canal and the company that had it built.”
This year's Canal Festival featured both new and returning attractions ranging from musical entertainment, living history demonstrations, hand-crafted goods and delicious food stands.
Canal Park Committee member Sally Talaga led guided history walks along the canal to help settle visitors into the time period.
Timothy Oset and Rachael Gonzalez of the National Parks service demonstrated life within the cramped confines of a typical canal boat cabin.
“Essentially the living spaces on the boat were only around six to eight feet long.” stated Oset, explaining that the boats were operated by whole families.
As these families traversed the canal line, their items would oft go missing only to later be discovered by the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology,Frances Dorrance Chapter 11.
Society member Ted Baird held a small site wherein children could dig for buried treasures of the past and learn a bit about canal boat life.
“We're digging in a spot that we've dug in the previous two years and what we're doing is just trying to get down to the bottom,” said Baird. “The deeper you are, the more likely you are to find some stuff that was either lost or discarded shortly after the canal period.”
Baird said the society has attended the festival nearly every year its been on.
Notable finds include a donkey show, a few nice bottles, a thimble and a child's marble.
The festival was happy to welcome back Frank Littlebear as he and his two sons Thomas Littlethunder and Nicholas Redwolf showcased Native American cultural music and stories.
Littlebear stated that he and his family enjoyed coming out to Canal Festival not only for the general hospitality of organizers, but also for their commitment to community outreach with their programs.
He explained a large motivation for including his children in his demonstrations is that, “It's something passing on the culture to them and keeping it alive … but they also get to learn different aspects of things and get to see how important outside of a pow wow it is to share that with audience members.”
Other musical performances were given by Dianne Romano, playing traditional Irish concert flute music; Dave Matsinko, playing traditional banjo and other string instrument performances; and folk group Poison Love giving a live concert on the northwestern side of the grounds.
Representing early American Craftsmen were blacksmith Paul Janusz and primitive skill demonstrator Ed Burgholzer.
Janusz, owner of local artisan smithy Gravity Line Forge, was present for his second year at the festival.
“These people are wonderful,” said Janusz, attesting to the historical society and Canal Park operators. “We come out to every event they have.”
This was Burgholzer's first year at the festival showcasing survival skills in brain tanning, bow making, arrow making, trapping and friction fire making.
He, too, noted his enjoyment at being part of the festivities.
There were also local history author book signings and commemorative historical affects available for purchase from a replicated Canal Store in the ground floor of the property's farm house.
The weather was pleasant and the day enjoyed by all who came to share in the majesty of a trip through time.