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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Students learn from 1800s-themed event at Maxwell

  • Far away from the bustle of city life was an event near Canton that seemed to turn back time.
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  • Far away from the bustle of city life was an event near Canton that seemed to turn back time.
    Tucked away in the prairie of Maxwell Wildlife Refuge last weekend, the 19th annual Mountain Man Rendezvous was a snapshot of life in the 1800s. The experience was made complete with the sight of teepees, the smell of food cooked over fire, and the sound of clanking metal.
    The three-day event included buffalo tram tours, a bluegrass band and a gathering to make arrowheads. Participants from all over the state provided many educational opportunities for local students.
    Tom Duvall, from north of Wichita, partnered with his son Steve of Galva to set up a display of their blacksmithing hobby. While there, Tom worked on a number of projects in a forge with a crank blower, including a handle made of twisted steel.
    "It's keeping in touch with the ability to make something," he said. "With kids nowadays, everything has to be so instant that we're losing the skills it takes to survive. They don't understand how things are made. They're just there."
    Doug and Verlete Myers of Manhattan have been coming to the event for 18 years.
    "We like doing the old-fashioned stuff," he said, adding this includes storytelling and cooking by fire. "A lot of it we were taught as kids, but they don't teach it anymore."
    Sarah Kroeker of McPherson — who has Cherokee background — and her family set up camp at the rendezvous to provide an educational experience for her four children. The family spent the night in a teepee for the weekend and cooked on an open fire.
    She also provided a craft for attendees, which made dolls out of corn husks.
    "This is awesome for family fun," she said. "We learn about (history) in books, but to participate, dress the part and live how things used to be is good."
    Students from Canton-Galva visited the event Friday and were enjoying the education outside of the classroom.
    "It's really cool because we get to see how the Indians lived," Kaylee Littrell, eighth-grader, said. "It's part of our heritage, and we don't get to see it every day."
    "I think it would be hard," Alex Koehn, seventh-grader, said of living in the older time period. "It never really gets boring. Playing music on your iPad gets boring."
    Seventh-grader Jonah Sergent said he was intrigued with observing an older style of living, such as building things from scratch.
    "It's kind of hard to believe we can't do all that stuff even with the new technology," he said.
    "It's really interesting to find out what it used to be like and figure out how different their lives were than ours," Kenzee Hiebert, eighth-grader, said.
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