Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Prairie Days for the History Books!

The Darke County Park District would like to thank all of those who came out to Shawnee Prairie Preserve for the 2015 Prairie Days Festival. Saturday began with a light drizzle and slow start, but soon the sun showed its face as did thousands of festival attendees. The morning began with the opening ceremony with the Greenville Veterans Honor Guard raising the flag and a member of the Greenville High School Wavaires singing the national anthem. Soon there were people flooding the craft tent, log house, blacksmith shop, and encampment area.

This year’s take home crafts included sewing bean bags, butter making, alpaca fiber spinning, tin can lanterns, and much more. For adults and children, there were educational demonstrations from leather working and basket weaving to chair caning and candle dipping. Apples from Downing Fruit Farm were used to make fresh cider and apple butter. The sorghum press, one of the two new attractions at Prairie Days, drew in crowds as volunteers pressed the sorghum cane with a horse powered press and explained the process of turning it into a usable product. At the other newest addition, the cobb oven or bake oven, visitors learned about historic baking practices and sampled 200 year old recipes for bread and cookies. A big thank you goes out to the Darke County Civic Theatre; Thien Snipps; Joseph, folk singer and storyteller; Berachah Valley; and Silver Grass Band for keeping the stage alive with entertainment throughout the festival. Thanks to all of the demonstrators and those in the historic encampment for their willingness to share their knowledge.

Volunteers kept a smile on their faces throughout the weekend as they demonstrated historic practices, directed visitors to all the activities, or helped with any of the other countless tasks required to make Prairie Days possible. Laura Schwieterman, volunteer coordinator for the Park District, estimated this year’s workers numbered between 250 and 275. It truly takes hundreds of people and thousands of work hours to make the event a success. The Prairie Days festival wouldn’t exist without the large number of strong, energetic, and willing volunteers. Roger Van Frank, director of the Darke County Park District, said about the event, “I am very happy with the outcome. The staff and volunteers have built Prairie Days into a premier regional event for residents and visitors to the area. Children and their families can participate in this fun and educational experience with little to no cost.”

The dates are set for next year’s festival: September 24th and 25th, 2016. Mark your calendars NOW! You don’t want to miss out on this free, fun, family-oriented festival! Visit the website at for more information!

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