Thursday, April 10, 2014
This past weekend the Williamsburg Tourism Board, the Historical Society, and the Chamber sponsored the Heritage and Horses Festival. The Event consisted of Colonial Days at Thorntree, a Lancing Tournament, and Arts Festival. Unfortunately with Saturday starting out rainy and wet, the lancing tournament cancelled for equine and human safety. However a soggy morning could not dampen the enthusiasm of the traveling re-enactors at Thorntree who were ready to recreate history. The 20 re-enactors traveled from all parts of the Carolinas to share their love of history and to promote the great heritage of this community. Their dedication to authenticity with clothing, tools, and camping gear brought history to life. In addition, each person had an expertise or skill such as woodworking, blacksmithing, needlework, pottery, and candle making that was demonstrated during the day. The adult re-enactors were interesting and educational; the children were delightful. It was fun and refreshing to watch children play and entertain themselves without the assistance of technology, or a ball being involved. Truly Saturday was a perfect opportunity for families to experience life in Williamsburg County some 200 years ago while observing the lifestyles of those living in the Colonial period. Even though these events are considered a hobby for many of the participants, the re-enactors probably believe what they do is an educational activity and think of themselves as living historians.
On Sunday, the Arts Festival was held at the Williamsburgh Museum and Cassandra Rush's Art Gallery. The talent of participating artist was incredible, and their wiliness to share their work with the public was priceless. Again, heritage was evident in much of the art as paintings of old home sites, agriculture, rivers, and marshes were seen throughout the show. More than 18 artist exhibited paintings, sculpture, and hand crafted furniture. A new artist from Dorchester had beautiful watercolors of various agriculture scenes. There were pictures of mules, people putting in tobacco, and sugarcane being processed. However, it was interesting that these particular pictures created much debate. Many individuals had dismal recollections of working in tobacco or on the farm, whereas others loved the pictures because they brought back good memories of a simpler time. Regardless of family background, or how individuals perceive local history, those of us who grew up in this area share the heritage that has made our community what is today.
Last week I read an article from England about planning for the future with heritage in mind. The following are tidbits from the article: "History makes each place unique and cherished and when planning for the future, remember the past. By including heritage, communities can come to know the place they live while maintaining vitality, sense of identity, and individuality. The character of a place is rooted in its heritage- it helps make a place distinctive, attractive, and interesting. Promoting heritage ensures a combination of the story of the people and the place. Including heritage is not just about preserving the area, but rather knowledge of its history helps a community understand how it has changed and developed through the years. Heritage belongs to everyone and is at the core of our sense of personal and community identity. It can bring people together." Apparently the author truly believes that heritage is vital to a community's growth and future.
Even if our community does not always understand and appreciate the value of our heritage, there are countless others who do. For instance there was the couple from Charleston who just happened to pass by the event at Thorntree Saturday and ended up staying for several hours talking and learning from the re-enactors. And then there was the artist who had been hoping for an invitation to participate in our arts festival and was delighted when his letter arrived. There is my new friend who moved to this community and has become involved in many events because she simply loves the area. In addition, the re-enactors constantly talked about what an irreplaceable treasure Thorntree House is, and inquired about using it on a more regular schedule. We have a great heritage in this community that is a vital part of our present lives and our future.
Steve Berry, former lawyer, author, and historic preservationist said the following: "A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies; all of these things that literally make us who we are." I am proud to be from Williamsburg County and thankful for the heritage of faith, fertile land, strong families, abundant resources, beautiful homes, a scenic river, wildlife, and exceptional citizens. I am also grateful for good people who work diligently to make our community a better place to live and work. My roots run deep, do yours?