Monday, Sep 28, 2009
George Washington Carver National Monument celebrated Prairie Day on Saturday, September 12th. Over 1,200 visitors enjoyed the annual event, which is held each autumn and focuses on the cultural and natural setting during Carver’s childhood years, the mid-1860s through 1870s.
Born into slavery during the Civil War, George Washington Carver was later orphaned and raised by Moses and Susan Carver on the 240-acre farm.
Professional storyteller John Anderson of Kansas City, Missouri, interpreted African American life on the prairie in the 1870s and Jack Farrow from the Missouri Ozarks shared Ozark stories and legends that included tales of local Civil War skirmishes. Local quilters presented a quilting bee, tacked quilts, and other textiles. Regional musicians performed traditional music under a big tent and a local dulcimer club provided music throughout the park. Horse-drawn wagon rides took visitors across the prairie with storytellers who interpreted George Washington Carver’s childhood. A log-hewing demonstration illustrated types of log notching that may have been used on the farm.
At the 1881 Moses Carver House and around the trail the past came alive with a variety of living history demonstrations, including candle dipping, wool spinning, basket weaving, lye soap making and laundering, a corn shucking contest, Dutch-oven cooking, a chuck wagon, and traditional kitchen gardens using heirloom varieties of corn, beans, squash, and herbs. A spelling bee interpreted Carver’s struggle for education. Local agencies provided exhibits on burial customs, edible and medicinal plants, and the natural history of the prairie.
Prairie Day was made possible by assistance from the Carver Birthplace Association. Nearly 80 Volunteers In Parks contributed approximately 400 hours to present Prairie Day. The African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation provides support for special programs at George Washington Carver National Monument.
George Washington Carver National Monument, the first unit of the National Park Service dedicated to an African American, preserves the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver.