"Party like it's 1799!"
That's the invitation from Deborah Watts to Saturday's harvest celebration in the Carolina Backcountry at the Sumter County Museum. Watts is the manager of the backcountry, an authentic recreation of a homestead and community as they existed around the turn of the 19th century.
Guests on Saturday will be able to tour most of the backcountry's buildings, which includes the loom house, blacksmith's forge, commissary, a settler's house, a log cabin and an outhouse. The event will give them an idea of what life was like with no electricity or running water. The settler's house and the log cabin are not recreations like the other buildings, but were actually moved from a genuine homestead to the museum's grounds. Both are furnished in the manner of the period.
The commissary was a storage building, where settlers stored supplies, seeds and cloth. A schoolroom holds hornbooks, slates and quills, which were used by the young 19th century students.
Enter the backcountry, and one of the first things you'll notice is the aroma of food cooking on an open fire. Watts selects a menu, prepares the food and offers samples to backcountry guests. In addition to her biscuits and ham, on Saturday she'll also be serving up "chicken on a string," venison stew, root vegetable stew and corn fritters. Suann Richendrfr will be making bread in the backcountry's brick oven and serving it hot with butter churned on the site.
You'll also notice many people dressed in vintage clothing. Watts made these for museum volunteers and staff, and this year, she said, "Linda Hawkins of (Sumter's Home Chapter) of the Daughters of the American Revolution is bringing nine Children of the American Revolution, and I've made period clothing for all of them."
For the first time in several years, Watts said, she has made an authentic outfit for 4-month-old Addison, daughter of Sumter County Museum Director Annie Rivers.
"At that period," Watts said, "children and babies wore miniature versions of their parents' outfits."
She said the blacksmith's forge will be busy during the event, as will many of the other areas of the backcountry.
"Rick Chrisinger will be our blacksmith, Mel Welch will be spinning and weaving, and Frank Holloway will have his period weaponry," Watts said.
"It will be a regular day in the life of 1800 settlers during harvest," she said. "Children (volunteers) will be demonstrating games of the time, and visitors will be able to play them."
Watts said she's also planning some old-time sack races.
Admission to Carolina Backcountry Harvest Day is free, and the public is invited to attend.
The Williams-Brice House, where most of the museum's exhibitions are displayed, will also be open on Saturday.
Visit both the museum and its Carolina Backcountry from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Saturday at the Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St. For more information, call (803) 775-0908 or email email@example.com.
You can also visit the museum's website, www.sumtercountymuseum.org.