Ben Kirkland, resource manager at Chehaw Park (background) and his “Segundo” volunteer, Nick Baker, put the finishing touches on an authentic tepee of the type used by plains Indians in the 19th century. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — The folks at Chehaw Park in Albany are once again preparing to take their visitors back to pre-1840s America. Already tepees and other primitive mobile shelters are springing up like mushrooms for the 22nd Frontier Festival Friday through Sunday.
Ben Kirkland, resource manager at Chehaw, said history buffs are arriving from all over Georgia and neighboring states to give free demonstrations in day-to-day American skills including blacksmithing, weaving, flintlock shooting with real black powder, primitive tanning and fire by friction.
“All of (the demonstrators) are history fanatics, every single one,” Kirkland said. “You’ll have someone who’s into 1750’s eastern hunting tradition, or the western mountain man who lives in a tepee, and everything in between. We might even have a pirate or two.”
New for this year will be the making of a “dugout” canoe, which will be accomplished by the use of axes and gouges on a “great big old log,” Kirkland said.
In addition, visitors will experience the making of lye soap, cooking in dutch ovens and over open fires, candle-dipping and the making of authentic leather moccasins. Vendors will be on hand for those who want to purchase authentic frontier items, Kirkland said.
“The park spends virtually no money on this,” Kirkland said. “All those giving demonstrators are volunteers and history buffs. The kids have just started back to school and the weather can be a little finicky, but ever since we started in in 1993, it’s been a positive event for the park. Historically, we have better participation than on any other weekend in January.”
Kirkland said that regular Chehaw entrance charges will apply, with no additional charges to attend the Frontier Festival on Friday through Sunday. For more information, call Chehaw at (229) 430-5275.