NHOTIC changes Memorial Day weekend event

music of the west

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 4.11.20 PMIf you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a pioneer packing up to tackle the Oregon Trail, you’re in luck — “Heading West” is happening this weekend at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Activities are planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day

“It’s a re-creation of a jumping off camp — pioneers getting ready to form a wagon train and head west,” said Kelly Burns, park ranger.

Heading West is a change from the center’s traditional Memorial Day “Meet the Pioneers” event.

“We haven’t done anything like this before,” Burns said. “It’s not your usual cast of characters.”

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the first wagon trains on the Oregon Trail.

“That year there were a thousand wagons,” Burns said.

Heading West celebrates that milestone by portraying what the start of the trip could have looked like. Saturday and Sunday will include music, blacksmithing, conversation and cooking. It will be designed, Burns said, to give visitors a glimpse into history as the interpreters stay in character to act out their parts. Discussion will include whether or not they should travel on Sunday and if they will share communal meals. They will also elect a wagonmaster.

“We’re trying to grow a new program, and celebrate the 175th anniversary of the trail,” Burns said.

Heading West activities will be set up near the picnic table area with lean-tos and tents. In addition to Trail Tender volunteers, Heading West will include Kirby Records as a mountain man/scout on Saturday. Clinton and Sarah Carter will provide music both days.

Inside, Karen Haas will present three shows — 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Her presentations are called “Narcissa Whitman,” “Wagons West,” and “Eliza Jane Meeker — Pioneer Memories and Future Dreams.”

Regular admission prices apply for the weekend: $8 adults, $4.50 seniors and free for ages 15 and younger. Federal passes are also accepted. Fourth-graders and their families have free admission with an “Every Kid in a Park” pass (www.everykidinapark.gov).

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