The Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, in Barberville, FL, is an old-time 'cracker' style village. It's been there as long as I can remember, and if you go to school in Volusia County, you *will* take at least one field trip there. You will learn about life at the turn of the century (20th, mind you, not 21st!), about how hard work earned you the food on your table and the clothes on your back. You'll learn to make rope, blacksmith, make candles, weave....the list goes on. I made a couple of trips there in my youth, and Olivia has already been there once. Well, on November 6th we made a trip there together for their Fall Jamboree, made possible by a family pass given to me by my boss. It was amazing!
Our first order of business was hot cocoa. For the first weekend of November, the weather was rather chilly. Then we wandered around some of the craft tables set up. People had various wares for sale, and I love looking. We failed to grab a map or schedule on the way in, so I just kind of let our feet guide us. There were musical groups set up in different locations...check out the last picture...and folk music filled the air from every direction. A few photo highlights:
That last picture was a nice surprise. Apparently there was a contest going on in which decorated rocks were hidden throughout the park. Children were to collect them and turn in mass amounts to earn prizes. The little girl that told us about the contest had about 20 rocks in her possession at the time, so we opted to not collect the rocks but continue to be surprised when we found them. It's nice being reminded to smile once in awhile!
Blacksmithery is a popular activity at the settlement, and the blacksmith group that works there has earned several awards. This young man was making a leaf. A few more photos:
Our day went on like this. We followed the path through the village and stopped to learn a thing or two when given the chance. Olivia got to make a cedar shingle:
...and saw some wood:
She rolled down a hill:
....and got to eat dessert (homemade blueberry ice cream!) first:
We wandered some more and took a few more pictures:
All of these great, wonderful things...and yet, not the highlight of the day. You see, the geniuses that planned the jamboree had something amazing planned. They took one room in one of the buildings and set out instruments. Dulcimers, ukeleles, maracas, guitars, violins, fiddles, rain sticks, autoharps, steel drums, bongo drums....you name it. They didn't just set these instruments out, they wanted you to play them. This was the musical petting zoo, and I don't think I've ever been to a more fantastic petting zoo in my life!
That picture is sort of blurry, but I hope it captures some of the amazement on Olivia's face from the first note she made on the accordion. Neither of us is very musical, but we made a joyful noise on this day.
These people made a joyful noise as well. This was a wonderful group called The Hallelujah Sisters, with accordion accompaniment, and they sang some beautiful hymns. We all played whatever instrument was in our hands at the time and joined in the noise. It was wonderful! Their last song was one of my favorite hymns, 'I'll Fly Away.' And let me tell you, God was in that room with us. It was so powerful and uplifting that, by the end of the song, everyone was looking around, saying, "Wow, did you feel that?!?" I will never forget that feeling.
There was more shopping to be had and skills to be learned. We wandered around for a while longer, but nothing could top the feeling of the musical petting zoo. I let Olivia roll down the hill some more and then get her face painted, and then we decided to head home. It was a magical day that left us both smiling, and I am so glad we experienced it.