By all accounts, this Second Saturday May Festival at the Wheat Ridge Historical Park (4610 Robb St.), scheduled for May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be one for the history books. Not only will we welcome well-loved standards like maypole dancing (at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m.), games, live music, antique autos, and costumes galore, this year we’ll hold the Grand Opening of the first chapter of our re-imagination project: the Century-long Story.
Work on the old Johnson Cabin has been progressing at fever pitch. After all its contents were removed to be inventoried, the sturdy old building underwent a thorough spring cleaning. Led by coordinators Deb Bollig and Priscilla Marshall, volunteers dusted and cleaned the walls, ceiling and floor top to bottom. They washed windows, made minor repairs, puttied some bodacious cracks, and installed trim around the circumference of the main area “floating” floor, then stuffed steel wool behind it to further deter critters who have been known to chew on artifacts in the displays.
That done, volunteers spent several more work sessions “staging” the cabin to have the look and feel of a prairie homestead of the 1860s. Visitors who enter the structure during the May Festival (and after) will enter the world of a recently arrived family from St. Louis, surviving for the present solely on what they could fit in their ox-drawn wagon or make after arriving.
Viewing the cabin’s contents begs the questions, “What would you bring if you had to fit your possessions into one wagon for a thousand-mile trip?” and “What is really important in life?” On view will be several methods of food storage, utensils for cooking and preparing food, furniture common to the time – all necessities for life on the prairie with no means of support close by. Interactive tours will be available throughout the festival and future Fridays.
In between touring all the park buildings on festival day, families can partake in other activities. Visitors will find the Society’s 15-foot maypole standing in the center of the park, ribbons unfurled and ready for visitors to celebrate spring and join in maypole dancing, a social activity common in the 1800s and into the 1900s. Dancing to tunes offered by area band Golden Strings featuring Henry the Fiddler, children and adults alike will weave a giant, multi-colored braid around the pole.
That done, folks can join ladies and gents from the local Victorian club, Days Gone By, in a dignified game of croquet on the front lawn or a rousing contest of cornhole. When lunchtime (or a case of the munchies) hits, patronize local food trucks Wat-up Dog and Twisted Smoothie. Then saunter over to the south end of the park and talk to the enthusiastic owners of beautifully restored antique automobiles. Before leaving, don’t forget to support the Historical Society by purchasing various crafts, books, cards and buttons. See ya there!