Last Friday, in an attempt to walk off at least a little of our turkey dinner, we stumbled into a sweet piece of history.
Shawano’s Heritage Park Grounds gave us an excellent opportunity to stretch our legs in a beautiful setting and transport ourselves back in time.
We had the place to ourselves on Black Friday, and took advantage of the solitude to dig into some of the exhibits. It felt almost like the dignified and influential John David Kast, one of Shawano’s founding fathers, escorted us through the park.
Kast, a German immigrant, made his way to Shawano via Waupaca, in 1874. A devout man, he taught Sunday School in his home until he and others raised enough money to build St. John’s Episcopal the following year. Two years after he arrived, Kast was elected to the state assembly.
Through the exhibit, we also met Samuel Farnsworth, who arrived in Shawano via paddleboat from Oshkosh in 1843 to scout potential sawmill sites. The following year, Charles Wescott and his crew did build the mill. I thought it was especially interesting that they repurposed an existing beaver dam to power the saw. Good ole American ingenuity at work.
A gazebo that served as an 1884 horse judge’s stand gave me an excellent opportunity to practice my Liesl leaps. We also strolled over a restored bridge onto Sunset Island, and imagined how life might have been there more than a century ago.
Having enjoyed my little stroll through history, I came home and followed the Shawano County Historical Society on Facebook, where I learned that Rhubarb Fest takes place there every June.
I’m penciling it in.
I also learned that the 1920 Shawano High School girls’ basketball team won the state title that year, which meant those girls were hooping it up 52 years before Title IX came along and gave them equal access to gyms.
Way to go, Shawano!