Waterloo Farm Museum’s Blacksmiths, Soldiers, and Log Cabin Weekend

Flintknapper Dan Hovater spins wool in his down time.

Story and Photos by Jenny Smith
  Young men in blue leveled their muskets and knelt among the trees near their encampment, but luckily for those in attendance, no blood was shed during last weekend’s Blacksmiths, Soldiers, and Log Cabin Weekend at the Waterloo Farm and Dewey School Museum.
Instead visitors were treated to an enthusiastic show of Civil War military history shared by the Union reenactment groups 5th Michigan Infantry, Austin Blair Camp #7, and the Tiger Light Guard. From time to time they broke ranks to stroll about the grounds or parade in formation. Wandering back down the hill offered opportunities to watch camp life unfold as soldiers socialized around the cook pot or lounged on bedrolls shaded by the canvas and skillfully crafted wares in their down time.

Reenactors wander the grounds in historical dress.

The main grounds of the farm were occupied with the more eclectic encampments and over a dozen blacksmith forges. Perhaps the most impressive was the primitive canvas and wood camp of smith Rob Bentley and his sons.

This author, also a demonstrator, had hauled out a reproduction vardo (gypsy caravan) to camp in, while guests were invited to enjoy the shade of the awning to watch the blacksmithing. The a rotating variety of artists from MABA (Michigan Artist Blacksmiths Association) occupied the farm’s permanent shop, as the museum’s current volunteer blacksmith, Chris St. Charles, was temporarily set up at one of the many portable forges. Beautiful items were on display and the skilled hands of veteran Blacksmiths and students alike were busy creating new ones.

“Banjo” Mike Evans picks a tune.

Several reenactors wandered the grounds in historical costume. Ian and Helga Allen and their children set up a small day camp and tethered a pair of goats nearby, much to the delight of children passing through.

Flintknapper Dan Hovater helped visitors chip away stone and glass with antlers to create arrowheads. Roger Kerr showcased a display of medical equipment and tinctures. Among the other displays were Jim Hunt’s fascinating spread of items from General Custer’s 7th Cavalry, the Cassel family’s collection of antique flat irons and blacksmith-made tools.

Great music throughout the weekend was provided by Banjo Mike Evans, A2B2 “Ann Arbor Bluegrass Band,” Eddie Joseph’s Jug Band, Angus O.F. the Scottish bard and bagpiper, and Jerry Kloock on his dulcimer. At times fellow musicians joined Banjo Mike and even stirred up a jig among soldiers.

A Union reenactor crafts a handle for a magnifying glass.

As usual the house was open for tours, and gift shop and outbuildings were open as well. A talented team of cooks prepared concessions to keep everyone satisfied and hydrated. The next event will be Antique Tractor, Truck, and Farm Equipment Show August 10th and 11th.

If you are interested in volunteering with the museum as a demonstrator, reenactor, docent, or behind the scenes, check out the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/WaterlooFarmMuseum.

Union Reenactors practice maneuvers.

Union reenactors take advantage of the shade.

Jerry Kloock plays the hammered dulcimer.

Receiving instruction on battlefield tactics.

Roger Kerr speaks about historical medicine.

Jim Hunt tells about his Custer display.

 

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