Chehaw offers frontier settler's experience at annual festival

At the annual Frontier Festival at Chehaw Parks, campers live over the weekend as settlers didin the 1700s and 1800s

Tomahawks, tepees and trade posts.

Campers from across the country are taking a step back in time and living like settlers did in the 1700s and 1800s at Chehaw's annual Frontier Festival.

"It's a living history event to let folks know what life was like on the frontier," says Ben Kirkland, Natural Resources Manager for Chehaw Parks.

And they aren't doing the frontier halfway: They're cooking all of their food over a fire they made and are even living in tepees for the weekend.

"We have traders here that have goods for sale, we have blacksmiths working, folks working on making bows, tanning hides, shooting black powder rifles, throwing the tomahawks," says Kirkland.

Dressed in his handmade Northern Plains Indian buck skins, Kirkland recalls his childhood interest.

"Very early on, I was interested in the Native American culture and also very interested in the frontier," says Kirkland.

He isn't the only one.

"As I grew up I was interested in this kind of stuff. I didn't know other people did it. I was just interested in it and when I started seeing other people doing it I joined the ranks," says Reenactor Nick Baker.

Baker is practiced in the flint rod long range rifle. A more than eight pound gun that was commonly used in the 1760s.

Reenactors are teaching newcomers how to use the rifle as well as how to throw a tomahawk. With the experience comes a history lesson. Reenactor Jim "Keystone" Warfel teaches campers that tomahawks weren't weapons or simply used in friendly competition.

"That's what put meat on the table. That's what they used for to build their campfires, to build their homes, their shelters, whatever they stayed in; to help with the skinning, butchering of animals they shot for their food source," says Warfel.

Food and other goods can be bought or traded over the weekend.

To experience the frontier yourself, all you have to pay is normal admission to Chehaw Parks.