Folk Festival encourages a look into history, volunteerism

A Texas Living History Association reenactor, Diane Watson, talks about what doing laundry was like during the frontier times and the struggles of washing clothes.

Mission Tejas State Park held their 15th annual Folk Festival in Grapeland, Texas this past weekend after two years hiatus due to COVID  

The event allows travelers from around Texas to dress up an reenact history and inform visitors on past ways of life for one day out of the weekend.  

SFA students in the college or forestry and agriculture often volunteer at the event. While the event was free, donations were accepted to pay for the volunteers' lunch.  

Nathan Homeier, a senior forestry major from Nacogdoches and first year attendee of the festival, has been working as a field ranger and maintenance person for Mission Tejas State Park since December 

Before I was employed, I was a volunteer here since January of 2020. [SFA] is where we get most of our volunteers from,” he said.  

According to Homeier most of the volunteers come from the college of forestry and agriculture.  

Anabelle Lawson, a sophomore agroforestry major from Dallas, also volunteered at the event for the first time this year 

“I am the President of the National Association for Interpretation at SFA. We work a lot with the state parks and try to get opportunities,” she said.  

Gary Coker, a program supervisor at the park, has overseen putting on the event since 2010. His favorite part of hosting the event is getting to know the people who come out each year and seeing the props they bring with them. 

Every once in a while [I’ll] getting trapped into trying to help them set up some of this stuff,” he joked.  

Dee Roberts, a park visitor from Nacogdoches, has visited the park before, but has never been to the festival before this year. She enjoys seeing the old buildings a learning about the past.  

“I love studying the history, and I like seeing it lived out,” she said.  

A quilt maker, Susan Burch from Houston, has been attending the event since 2015. She focuses on making Victorian crazy quilts or creating bobbin lace at reenactment events. Her quilt has been in the works since 1995 and contains fabric from her and her families’ clothing.  

Burch’s favorite part of the event is meeting people who become friends away from friends and getting to go back in time.  

It’s like an escape from the modern-day world. You can step back in time, there’s no worries. To me this is a very relaxing, very peaceful and very lovely way to spend an afternoon or a couple of days and totally escape your modern life,” she said.  

Tom Leach, a returning participant of the festival from Mansfield, attends with his group which consists of spinners, weavers, cooks and an artist. Leach said this is his sixth or seventh year returning but there is a noticeable difference in the turn out.  

“When you get us all here, which normally we are, this year we’re not, we’re probably three times the set up we have right now,” he said.  

The event will happen again next year now that COVID is beginning to become more manageable. Mission Tejas State Park also invites students to volunteer year-round. Contact the park at 936.687.2394.  

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