Without my Valentine, I skipped February 14. Outside it was dismal and drizzly and that seemed pretty appropriate so I stayed inside and got shut out of campsite spots for next winter, read and worked on catching up the blog which I’m still doing.
On Saturday February 15 the Silver River Museum within the park hosted the annual Knap In. Actually the full title is Silver River Knap In and Stone Age Arts Festival. How’s that for something unique?
The museum is both a museum and an environmental educational learning center for the county schools. During the week, school field trips come to learn about the
the cultural and natural history of Marion County, and the importance of protecting and conserving cultural and natural resources. They also provide pontoon boat educational classes on the Silver River that launch from this dock which I paddle by on my way to the head springs from the park and often hike to on the Swamp Trail.
I sometimes see the pontoon coming down from to the dock to pick up the children. I try not to be on the trail when the group is coming or going to the dock. They are VERY noisy!
The complex consists of the museum and classroom buildings, a lunch pavilion, research library, a late 1800’s Pioneer “Cracker” Settlement whose buildings were moved from other parts of the county, as was a circa 1930 one-room schoolhouse used by African-American students during segregation. Recently they added wood-fired pottery kiln and two log cabins are scheduled to be constructed. It has been fun to watch this museum grow during the years I’ve been coming to the park.
Flint knapping is the art of making stone tools by controlling how stone breaks in order to create specific shapes and sharp edges. Arrow and spear points, knives, axes, scrapers, drill bits and a variety of other tools can be made from flint (also called chert) by removing portions of the stone through various techniques. Before metal working was developed, this craft was extremely important. Obviously much of this festival is Native American arts. You can try your hand, watch the experts at work, attend a demonstration and buy any variety of things.
Many of the wares are unbelievably beautiful and expensive. These of course are not artifacts but made by crafters using the old ways.
In additon to expert flint knappers, archeologists, canoe makers, potters, hide tanners, bow makers and other specialists in prehistoric skills are here from across the eastern U.S. to demonstrate and sell their arts. Vendors offer reproduction stone tools, raw stone, flint knapping tools as well as unique crafts.
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The festival goes on for both days of the week-end. There are archery, tomahawk and atlatl dart throwing demonstrations each day. Along with free try it yourself for each of them. It was fun watching folks try the throwing. There were lines and not only children but adults as well. I didn’t realize until now that all my pictures were of young people and I had none of the unique atlatl.
I wonder if I could even hit the target or if I’d just slice up the sheet
A flint knapping competition and on-going prehistoric skills demonstrations also take place. One of the first things I did was attend a talk about Seminole Canoe Making given by a traditional Seminole.
Later in the day, I saw him at a canoe he was working on. He was showing what he was doing. There were too many people to get a photograph that showed the entire length of the long canoe or that didn’t have one person or another in the way. Another Native American was working beside him on smaller pieces. In his hand he shows the tool used to hand scrape out the wood. He explains that originally strong shells were used but metal tools arrived with the Europeans.
Nearby structures from a Seminole Village were set up. The Chickees I know are Seminole but the beautiful Teepee is actually a western planes home.
The couple who were selling and demonstrating Native American Flutes set up teepees to live and sleep in during the Knap In.
Inside the teepees were warm and cozy with skins and blankets to sleep on. Since they were at their booth and could not give me permission, I took no pictures inside.
The Teepee owner demonstrating her wares.
Among the most unique things I saw was the woman with the tent from Ambassadors of Nature who held an Opossum while she talked about their benefits around your home. They eat cockroaches and ticks for one and rats,
mice and snakes for another. I remember we often had possums in our grape arbor. Of course they are nocternal and one night I went out through the arbor and out the gate at its end to our compost pile. Coming back through the dark arbor there were eyes shining above me. Scared me to death so I went in and got a red flashlight which enabled me to see who was there but not blind the creature. He stayed, I went and tried not to have to go out to the arbor after dark again. There were plenty of grapes for us both. Not sure I’d want to hold one though. They too are might prehistoric having been alive in the time of the dinosaurs.
Toward the end of my trip around the grounds I ran into the Forge in operation as well as the relatively new Kiln being made ready for firing. Neither of these would really qualify for the subtitle of the Knap In which is “Stone Tool Making and Prehistoric Arts” Festival”. They aren’t ancient but perhaps this is how the metal canoe carving tools were made back in the day. Native pottery was often fired in the ground rather than in something like this.
Admission is $6 even if you are camping in the park. I made some bad decisions only going one day and not having my “good camera” It’s much easier not to make people uncomfortable taking pictures with a phone is my excuse.
That’s a shame since I just learned that the Knap In is moving to Love Mounds Archeological Park in Tallahassee for 2021. Not sure why. It’s been at Silver River for years. Bummer, since it’s being held on the week-end of February 26 2021 and I have reservations to be at Silver River then. Color me disappointed.
I’ll leave you with some inspiration from one of the tables. I could use a lot of these thoughts (give, trust, relax, hope, enjoy, remember, dream, love, dance, grace, forgive, embrace, smile, blessed, live, accept, laugh, courage, faith, love, joy, believe, happy) but at $12 each, I resist the temptation.
My last kayaking adventures here before moving East and into March are coming up next.