By Keith Gushard
Missy Clark doesn’t mind cooking, dyeing yarn and making candles at the same time while explaining what she’s doing to those who gather around her.
“Good Wife Clark,” as she calls herself, is a full-time historical re-enactor who specializes in the American colonial period from 1740 to 1780.
Having no running water, dishwasher or any other modern convenience doesn’t deter Clark and her chipper attitude, however.
“I love it. I’m passionate about history,” said Clark of Dalton, N.Y., who is encamped at this weekend’s 20th annual Pymatuning Pioneer & Arts Festival at Pymatuning State Park in Jamestown.
Clark has been a re-enactor for 28 years and is fervent about it.
“It’s so we don’t forget the people who built this country and what they had to do every day — every day,” Clark said of why enjoys showing people what day-to-day life in America was like more than 225 years ago.
Clark is always doing something in camp — because something always need to be done.
“My apron is a tool as much as it’s part of my clothing,” she explained as she wrapped her left hand in the apron to grasp the handle on a cast iron pot in the fire pit. The pot contained yarn in boiling water that was being dyed.
Clark, with help from two young cousins from Jamestown — Quinten Jones, 18, and Grace Jones, 12 — demonstrated how candles were made on the frontier before giving onlookers a chance to try it.
For each candle, a small twine wick was dipped into liquefied wax, then the person walked a short distance away and back, allowing the wax to set on the wick before dipping the candle again to add another layer of wax.
“How long does it take to make a candle?” a man in the crowd asked.
“It depends on how big you want the candle to be,” Clark responded, which drew a laugh from the small crowd.
Pymatuning Pioneer & Arts Festival is a fun, family-oriented event, according to Phil and Emily Cooke of Pittsburgh, who were attending not only with their young children, but other family members as well.
“My mom is here so is my sister with her family,” Emily Cooke said. “We’ve come for about 15 years. It’s really seeing life unplugged.”
The festival is sponsored by the Jamestown Area Historical Society in cooperation with Pymatuning State Park.
It can draw as many as 7,500 visitors during its annual two-day run, according to Cathy Amon, treasurer of the Jamestown Area Historical Society. Proceeds from the event are put toward remodeling and refurbishing the historical society’s museum.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
you can go
The Pymatuning Pioneer & Arts Festival features Civil War, Indian and historical encampments today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pymatuning State Park. Admission is $1 and parking is free. The festival entrance is at the park’s main entrance off Route 322, west of Jamestown.
One of the features of the festival is the 150th Bucktails Civil War encampment with authentic displays, cooking, clothing, music, dancing and camp living during the Civil War era.
The encampment includes a fashion show today from 1 to 1:45 p.m.; children’s activities today from 2:45 to 3:30; and infantry artillery today at noon.
Also, the Cushings/Taylors Battery provides a demonstration of artillery and arms used by Civil War soldiers. This encampment includes costumes, cooking, tools and more used during the Civil War.
There also are Native American re-enactors displaying authentic costumes, housing tools and skills.
Today’s schedule for Pymatuning Pioneer & Arts Festival
Abe Lincoln impersonator (John King)
Missy Clark “Good Wife” — Ongoing encampment activities; visit campsite for colonial demonstrations
Ice cream making and butter churning demonstrations
Native American re-enactors
Kayak, safe paddling presentation — all day
Antique and collectible tractor and equipment display — all day
Boat rides (free to the public) — noon to 3 p.m.
Infantry artillery — noon
Newfoundland water rescue demonstration — 1
Cow milking demonstration — 1
Pie eating contest — 2
Civil War encampment activities
Fashion show — 1 to 1:45
Children’s activities — 2:45 to 3:30
Wrangler Band — noon to 2:30
Helen Hammett — throughout the day