One of the great things about living in Litchfield (and I have started more than one blog post this way, so clearly there are many), is that we are only ten minutes away from the Forest City Stockade. So, if the Indians attack, we know where to go.
In the meantime, we know where to go for fry bread, horse-drawn wagon rides, and blacksmith demonstrations. The Stockade hosts two big events each year: a Summer Rendezvous and Pioneer Christmas. They are pretty similar events, except you have a bunch of vendors and musicians in period dress camped out at one, and Santa and Mrs. Claus hanging out at the other. I’ll leave it to you, my astute readers, to decide which is which.
As a child, I was a huge fan of the Little House on the Prairie books. My best friend Sarah and I also played a game called Clorinda and Winifer (like Winifred, only incorrect), wherein two pioneer girls either fell out of their covered wagon or were left behind while picking wild flowers. They were then captured by a Bad Indian (my sister Claire), imprisoned in the hedge in front of our house, and released by a Good Indian (also my sister Claire, one of the great character actors of the North Shore). I had an American Girl doll, and it was Kirsten, the Swedish immigrant pioneer. I did not have any pioneer girl clothes, but I desperately wanted them.
So I can only imagine that if I had lived ten minutes from the Forest City Stockade when I was eight or ten, I would have been all over these events like white on rice. Food, period dress, old wooden buildings, horses, and did I mention there are things to buy? And a little school house. And a little chapel. And trinkets and rock candy and homemade ice cream. You might run into Laura Ingalls around any corner.
Mike and I took Zoe to the Summer Rendezvous this year, and it was great! We “rode the horsies”, we ate treats, we browsed historically-inspired merchandise, we tried writing on a slate in the school house. It was a rendezvous to remember. I was even more excited to take Zoe to Pioneer Christmas, because Santa and his sleigh were going to be there. Also gingerbread.
And we did have fun (see the photographic evidence), but there was also a lot more whining than Pa or Ma Ingalls would have tolerated. There was a lot of carrying my child up and down creaky wooden staircases, scolding her to stay seated in the wagon for the love of tofu, and urging her to walk in this direction when it was time to go home. Also an unprecedented amount of screaming over the indignity of being buckled into her car seat. (The Ingalls family never had to worry about car seats. How lucky they were.)
I’m glad we went, but I think a few more years (and the chance to read the Little House books) are necessary before Zoe really appreciates the joys of living so close to pioneer paradise. Although: she already appreciates the joys of fry bread and gingerbread to the fullest.