The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 20, 2011

History festival to teach kids about the Civil War

The Athens-Limestone Tourism Council invites residents to step back in time Saturday to experience what Athens was like during the Civil War.

The Living History Festival, to be held at Big Spring Memorial Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature a working encampment and period demonstrations. Admission is free.

Cayce Lee of the tourism council said the festival is part of the state of Alabama’s observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. She said the main purpose is to give children a glimpse of life during a tumultuous period in the South.

“A lot of kids study the basics, but getting to experience it is another aspect,” she said. “We wanted them to learn about the historical factors in terms of how they lived.”

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Hobbs Camp will participate in the encampment, which will feature a camp kitchen and tents for officers, soldiers and enlisted men. Freeman’s Battery from Savannah, Tenn., will bring an artillery piece used in the Battle of Shiloh and will give demonstrations on how to load and fire the weapon.

“If you hear a cannon going off, don’t panic; it’s just us,” Lee said. “We’re taking over Big Springs Park.”

Children will also be allowed to load and fire a muzzle-loading rifle, with parental permission and guidance and supervision from the SCV.

A food vendor will be on hand selling beans, cornbread, fried pies and other food items found during that time. The event will also feature demonstrations on blacksmithing, spinning and quilting.

“This is our first year, so we’re starting small,” Lee said. “The Hobbs Camp was interested in helping us, but if we do this again, we may open it up to different organizations and re-enactors.”

At 2 p.m., live music will be provided by the Barren River Trio, a folk group from Bowling Green, Ky., specializing in songs focused on Southern heritage and faith.

Those who want to take in other aspects of Athens’ history can also take part in self-guided tours of the Houston Memorial Library and Museum, Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives and the Donnell House.

For more information, call the tourism council at 256-232-5411.

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