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Expo Sept. 20-21 shares Ozarks past with next generation

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Getting water at Gray-Campbell Farmstead Lifestyle Expo on a rainy day in 2012

Getting water at Gray-Campbell Farmstead Lifestyle Expo on a rainy day in 2012

Billed as the oldest house in Springfield, the Gray/Campbell Farmstead, a Civil-War era dwelling now located in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, is a history lesson just waiting to be explored by the whole family at the 23rd annual 1860s Lifestyle Exposition to be Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20- 21. The 19th Century farmhouse was moved to the 114-acre public park in 1984, prior to construction of the James River Freeway and Kansas Expressway.

Hours are 11-4:30 Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The event is free to the public, and many visitors dress for the day in old-fashioned garb as they sample fire-roasted roasted peanuts, popcorn and some time-tested recipes prepared on the hearth. Blacksmiths, wood whittlers, rope and furniture makers and other craftsmen are frequently featured. “The Lifestyle Exposition will also have hearth cooking, fiber arts, horseshoe pitching and seed spitting,  music and dancing as well as demonstrations from lifestyle historians,” adds Atkinson.

On Saturday, old-time fiddler will entertain beginning at 11 a.m. “All spectators can join in the contests and, for the music, there is no charge and no pre-registration unless you want stage opportunity,” says Michelle Atkinson, president of the Friends of Gray/Campbell Farmstead.

Donations are appreciated for projects such as the recreated Liberty School, once a one-room school near what is now Fellows Lake north of Springfield, where students attended classes until consolidation with Fair Grove in 1951. At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a flag-raising and ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate the opening of Liberty School.

“The celebration will bring ‘new life’ back to the old one-room Liberty School that was originally located in northern Greene County,” says Norma Tolbert. “Everyone is invited to walk through, sit in the student desks and reminisce, or learn first-hand, what a typical education of their forefathers was like.” Special guests will be alumni of the school and donors who have had a special part in completion of this project.

A new demonstration this year shows how Ozarkers of that era did their laundry, says Cheryl Blevins: “I enjoy history very much and especially enjoy learning about the lives of women at different times throughout our history. I am quite intrigued with the Campbell women and thought it would be fun to try and share a bit about their lives through a familiar task, laundry. I also enjoy teaching children and love to give them an opportunity to experience history hands-on.”

Most of use remember blowing bubbles as youngsters, but bubble-making has been a popular activity for kids as long as there has been soap and corn syrup.

“We give them a piece of wire and wooden beads for decoration and give them a mixture of soap and corn syrup which was used at that time for blowing. The corn syrup acts as cohesiveness to the soap to make the bubbles longer lasting.”

On Sunday, there will be an outdoor religious service at 11:30 a.m., reminiscent of an old-fashioned brush arbor meeting and the fifth annual apple pie-baking contest at 3 p.m. (rules are at graycampbellfarmstead.org).

For more information, call 417-725-4921, or go to graycampbellfarmstead.org.  The Gray/Campbell Farmstead is also on Facebook, and invites you to “like” what they’re about. Friends of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead is one of several non-profits groups that partner with Friends of the Garden to fulfill its mission of inspiring the discovery, understanding and appreciation of nature at the park located at 2400 S. Scenic Ave. in southwest Springfield . The park is also home to the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center and the 20 themed gardens, 15 special collections and five naturalized areas that make up the Springfield Botanical Gardens.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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