Now, Walnut Grove, one of Laura’s homes, is only about 30 miles from us, so it’s easy to go demonstrate there. We started about 4 years ago with an invitation given only a week before the festival started. Since it was a fast decision, we told the organizer that we would appreciate having an awning of some kind so they put up one of those plastic tarp covers up for us. Since then they have provided the cover each year, which makes set-up much easier since we don’t have to put up a tent or awning.
Most of the festival is food vendors, craft booths and music. We are there in period clothing, our friend Wally is there with his covered wagon and blacksmithing tools and there is also a Civil War reinactor group. Other than that, everyone else is either in modern clothes or in imaginary outfits. (By that I mean they think they are in costume but there is a lot to be desired to make them look period correct.)
I pride myself on being reasonably period correct. Everything on the outside is as it should be. On the inside, however, there are modifications. I do not wear a corset and I only have 1 petticoat. The dresses I have are called Prairie Dresses - they have a yoke, two long sleeves and the body is a lot of material gathered into the yoke and flowing down to the top of my foot (ankles should not be shown). This is a convenient dress because the women would often change sizes out on the prairie - either pregnant or not, losing or gaining weight. They would not have to change dresses at all. The waist is tucked in with an apron so that it doesn’t flow all over the place and give no form to the body.
As I said, the Walnut Grove festival is held 3 Saturdays of July. Usually it is hot and hard on a body. This time was no different. We always leave Peanut at home because of the heat and noise (cannons going off many times during the day). The first Saturday was hot and I was not comfortable. The second day was the beginning of our horrible heat wave. Norm had found a roaster pan that fit just right for my feet. So I kept cool (well, sort of) by keeping my feet in the water and having a wet cloth around my neck. Norm had a wet cloth under his hat.
That Saturday was a “2-fer” - 2 snow cones during the afternoon (each). And lots and lots of water. This past Saturday, the heat wave was abating so it was not as bad, but still as bad.
I threatened to strip if it got worse. I would have taken my petticoat off (shock!!) and even taken my apron off and let my dress float in the little breeze that we had. Fortunately for my sensibility of decorum, it didn’t get that hot. But I HAVE taken my petticoat off on the worst days that we end up - making my layers only 4 instead of 5.
Norm is dressed as cool-ish as he properly can. I can never convince him to button up the top button of his 2-button shirt and he won’t wear a vest. But putting a cloth under his hat does help him, as he can’t be barefoot like I am.
Another way to keep cool, besides drink water is to eat dill pickles. We all need salt to help us keep hydrated. I am not sure exactly, but I think the salt makes you feel thirstier and you drink more water. I have some pickles I made a few years ago that turned out waaaay too salty so I cut them into bite sized pieces and we ate them and drank water immediately afterward. That helped keep us cool and encouraged us to drink more water.
I have some pictures to share. The one of me was in the Marshall newspaper, advertising the Festival. The others were ones that I took.
Wally, resting (I was too lazy to walk over to take his picture - I took it from my chair)
Norm showing his spoons
Working on a spoon
Spoon is nearly done
It was great to have been at Walnut Grove and I am grateful that we survived yet another year of hot weather. The heat wave has lessened and we are now just “hot” not unbearable with dangerous warnings. It’s a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day.