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Fall Family Day at Old Independence Regional Museum October 20 | Arts & Culture

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Fall Family Day at Old Independence Regional Museum October 20
Fall Family Day at Old Independence Regional Museum October 20

Celebrate the fall season with Old Independence Regional Museum at the 6th annual Fall Family Day, on Saturday, October 20th from 10am to 2pm.  The event is free and open to the public.  This year’s program features “Arkansas’ Wild Past” with special programming that includes Rodney Paul of Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas, who will be bringing owls, hawks and a falcon, James Gage and his wolves, Dr. Rebecca McPeake a Professor of Wildlife with the Cooperative Extension service will talk about snake awareness and will bring a the snake from the Arkansas 4-H Center.  Other programming will include Powhattan State Park interpreter, Mary Buchman who will demonstrate Dutch Oven Cooking and Old Davidsonville State Park interpreter Krystal Watson who will talk about the fur trade and keel boats on the White River. 


“We are excited to present a new program for the year’s Fall Family Day and shine the spotlight on Arkansas’ natural history,” states Amanda Nikkel, humanities educator.  Rodney Paul of Raptor Rehab and his “raptor ambassadors” will be attend the event and speak to the public about raptors and their importance to our ecology.  Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas was established in 2004 and to date has successfully released over 600 raptors back into their natural habitat.  They are one of only three facilities in the state that can legally handle eagles.  Paul states, “We specialize in the pre and post medical care, rehabilitation and eventual release of our native birds of prey consisting of hawks, owls, falcons and vultures back into the wild.”


In addition, Museum visitors will have a chance to meet James Gage and his “ambassador” wolf Shadow.  Gage states, “For some reason, wolves have been scaring people for centuries.”  He goes on to say that folklore and depicts wolves as animals to be scared of and notes that early settlers often felt threatened by wolves and tried to kill them off as they developed land.  “Indians had a very spiritual connection with their surroundings, and viewed wolves as their brothers,” according to Gage who feels that the world is a better place with wolves, who help keep the ecosystem in check.    Gage will be accompanied by Shadow, a full blooded wolf and Bailey a female hybrid.


Dr. Rebecca McPeake will be speaking about snake awareness.  McPeake states, “There are more species of nonvenomous than venomous snakes in Arkansas.  I will be speaking about snake identification, life history and biology and what to do if you get bit by a snake.”  McPeake has worked for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service for almost 14 years as a Professor of Wildlife.  She is a member of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center in Monticello and provides research, teaching and outreach to Arkansas citizens about wildlife and forests. 


Mary Buchman, an interpreter from Powhatan State Park, will be onsite with her Dutch oven demonstrating its use.  She will be making one of the most common breads in a settler’s diet – biscuits.  Learn about the technique to cooking with a Dutch oven and sample some of her delicious biscuits with homemade butter.


Keelboats were long, narrow boats with a keel, which provided stability, and were used by fur traders to transport goods up and down local rivers.  Unlike flatbottom boats, keelboats could make the trip back up the river.  Krystal Watson, an interpreter from Old Davidsonville State Park, will talk about the keelboat’s use during the heyday of the fur trade in our region, when Arkansas was still a territory.


The Museum gift shop has stocked up for the day with many new items for kids and families.  “We’re excited about our new Folkmantis puppet line which includes several owls and wolves” reports Gift Shop Manager, Claudia Nobles.   Nobles notes that the gift shop is well stocked for the event with fun plush animals, educational toys and historical books. 


This humanities program is made possible by local support from Independence County and the City of Batesville, as well as by Challenge Grant Endowment funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Old Independence serves a 12-county area:  Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff.  Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820s Arkansas territory.


The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.  Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children.  The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.   During your visit, stop by our gift shop.  We stock many items from local artists, authors, and crafters, as well as historical toys and games.