As Autumn descends on the Midwest, people will find an abundance of harvest-themed festivals. Welcoming Fall brings a change in the air, that signals the shortening of daylight hours. We find ourselves trying to savor every moment. Scanning the Kansas City calendar of events, we noticed the annual Fall Festival at Missouri Town 1855. Since we had never visited this particular outdoor venue, this seemed like the perfect destination for our first 2021 autumn excursion.
Frozen in Time
Missouri Town 1855 has a fairly self-explanatory name. The idea was to create a crossroads town that would be common around the start of the Civil War. There was no specific region chosen to be represented, as these types of villages existed all across the country. The buildings at Missouri Town were all brought here from other small towns. Each structure would have a specific purpose during life in 1855. Visitors are encouraged to explore the buildings and interact with the volunteers that inhabit each one. On festival day, the population swells with the excited throng of guests.
Traveling Back in Time
The act of welcoming Fall, at Missouri Town 1855, includes some down-home entertainment. After navigating parking, we made our way onto the grounds. One of the first buildings we came to would have been the residence of the local military leader. While the staff is in the process of refurbishing this structure, the interior is restricted. Instead of tours, they were using the building as a backdrop for an entertainment stage. As the day progressed, a variety of entertainers captivated those passing by with their musical prowess.
Wandering the grounds, we found that musical entertainment could be found in abundance. Keeping to the time period, we found ourselves being beguiled by unfamiliar sounds. Being country music lovers, we were familiar with the instruments being played. It’s easy to find yourself transported back in time when you are surrounded by the sounds of guitars, banjos, fiddles, and dulcimers.
Scattered around the grounds, we found an assortment of buildings that held various craftspeople. Each was more than happy to converse with us and the other visitors. They would fill us in on their role in Missouri Town, and how it would have fit into daily life in 1855. This guy was in the process of making wood shingles for roofs. This labor-intensive task would have been imperative for the maintenance of roofs on the buildings.
The layout of the village is easy to navigate, as it follows one main road. We made our way towards the back of the property, where we landed on a small farm. Here they were letting the oxen rest up from a day of heavy labor. Places like Missouri Town 1855 are an excellent opportunity for city dwellers to learn more about life on a farm. It is also a chance to pet a full-size Holstein bull.
Welcoming Fall includes lots of labor on the farm. While crops are maturing throughout the summer, there is an abundance of harvesting to be done in autumn. At Missouri Town 1855 they grow a small number of various crops, to be used for educational purposes. One of their key crops is sorghum, which is used in the production of molasses. During the Fall Festival, staff members harvest the crop and will usually show some of the steps for making molasses. There are a couple of places in the town that sell this thick sweetener produced by the staff.
Engaging the Public
Visitors can find other opportunities to engage and practice their skills. Harvest season has long been associated with apples. At Missouri Town 1855, this fruit is not overlooked. We spotted one area where apples were being crushed into a mash. A line of kids anxiously awaited their chance to hammer the large wooden pestle into the trough filled with apples. Nearby, staff members were busy creating apple cider with some of the mashed apples. Another group was in the throws of boiling down the mash for some creamy apple butter. The smells of autumn hung in the air.
Not all of the apples would end up being crushed. At a nearby house, we found a volunteer busy with the task of pie-making. She walked through how she did it and then we spent some time just conversing. We discovered that the foods produced during the day are used to feed staff and volunteers. This seemed like a perfect reward for a busy day filled with activity. We can imagine that they have quite a feast when the workday is done.
Fall festivals have a lot to offer visitors. Besides the educational and engaging activities, there is usually a good selection of vendors. This is the perfect time to do a little early holiday shopping. A large number of the booths were filled with handmade crafts from local artists. This adds a homegrown touch to gifts for friends and family. We also keep an eye open for things that would fit in our own homes.
Wrapping Up a Full Day
With so much activity, as well as some tasty cobblers, we found ourselves tuckered out from our excursion. As we neared the parking lot, we spied the last few exhibits. At this one, the focus was on allowing visitors to learn about the pelts from different animals. Laid out in the midst of the display was the couple’s child. It looks like the day’s activities had worn this tyke out, as well. Time for us to rest up and prepare for more Fall events. We need to make hay while the sun shines since winter will be here sooner than we realize.