Monday, October 6, 2014

Bald Knobbers and Sassafras Suckers

Today's blog title sounds a bit strange, if not mildly obscene (to those of  you have such minds....not thinking of anyone in particular...PP...cough-cough), but it is honestly a very appropriate - and clean - description of what we saw and did over our weekend.  We took a little drive through some very beautiful and scenic back roads over the weekend.  Although just the drive would have been reason enough to go out, we actually had a destination in mind:
One of our homeschooling newsletters had a link of "Pioneer Days" events going on in the local (and not so local) area and this one looked really interesting.  I just learned about it on Thursday but was able to schedule a quick day trip for Saturday.  A picnic lunch was packed and we were set to go!

Most of the road we travelled was state highway, but once you got off the secondary paved road ( twenty years ago), it was a 3 1/2 mile drive on a dirt road to get to the property.  The road was well maintained (as far as dirt roads go), but you still got the feeling that you were, in fact, at the "Edge of The World" as the sign posted on an oak tree proclaimed.  It also suggested that you check your brakes because if you were travelling in a vehicle with questionable stopping ability, you might end up over the cliff and in the creek below.

A two mule team pulling a wagon full of excited kids (and adults) passed us by as we entered the event area, and there were other horse and mule drawn carriages carrying people through a loop around the main gathering.
We hopped on the horse-drawn buggy powered by "Flame" and Rhiannon and I got an exciting ride along the creek.  Rhiannon got to wash some clothes the old fashioned way, saw soap being made and wood shingles being split by hand....all in one stop.
Moseyed over to where all the clanging was coming from and saw two different blacksmiths doing their blacksmithing magic:
We went over to the Civil War table where we saw what a solider would have in his knapsack:
Stopped by a sweets tent and bought a couple of suckers and then looked in at what seemed to be the norm for encampment protocol (white canvas tents, iron cooking grates, coffee boiling in pots and cast iron pots filled with beans):

There was also a wagon for supplies and a table set up showing what would have been common "pantry" items on the wagon:

Imagine Rhiannon's surprise when I showed her the basket of these and told her what they were and what they were used for:

Then we stumbled upon some one's supper being cooked.  Which was well guarded, to say the least:

Wool (and dog hair.  yes.  dog hair) being hand spun:

A lady who does chair caning:

Horse-powered doo-dad (yes, that's the technical term) that crushes the sorghum cane and a molasses cooking demonstration:

We sat and enjoyed some great music while eating our picnic lunch:

And last, but not least, some hands-on weapons practice.  What 5 year old kid wouldn't want to throw a tomahawk?!

There were also vendors selling everything from sassafras walking sticks to brain-tanned deer hides.  Tables with antler handle knives, deer hide purses, custom made long bows, wooden whistles, some iron work and a book for sale by a local author (who just so happens to work at our local library) on  the Ozark vigilantes known as the Bald Knobbers.

There is plenty of parking, people with golf carts available to shuttle you to & from the lot, porta johns, a large pavilion to provide shade or shelter and food stand (with the biggest burgers I've seen) if you didn't pack a lunch.  The entire area was groomed and neat and it was very family friendly. It was a great little get-away and I hope that we'll be able to go again.  If you're in the Ozarks in October of next year, might I suggest you take a little jaunt and go check it out?  You won't be disappointed.


  1. Did you help pump the bellows at the forge any?

    Most people when they see pictures of the Bald Knobbers always think they were a form of Missouri Klan but in fact they were made up of Unionist carpet baggers who returned to Taney and Christian county after the war and most of the people who had lived there had been driven out. They got their name because of their first meeting spot which was on top of a big bald hill.

    Back in those days a reliable defense in court was "Judge he needed killin"

  2. That looks like something my entire family would love to do.

  3. What a great way to learn! It looks like it was a well-thought-out event and fun!! So, now that we know where the "bald" came from, from whence cometh "knobblers..."?

  4. I love these events! We have one here t with proceeds to maintain the town that opens only once a year for the festival. They have full homes, all the old time crafts, and it's divided into historic time frames going back to Indians. It's very interesting.

  5. Carolyn,

    I love going to these events. Not only is it fun and educational for the kiddos, the adults get to enjoy themselves too.