Time stood still for a little while Saturday afternoon in Shawano and, gratefully, so did I.
I had come for the Rhubarb Festival for the treats. I’m a big fan of rhubarb and I looked forward to tasting the pie, muffins, sauce, salsa, sangria and lemonade because I belive that tangy weed-like stalk makes everything better.
So do really nice people and, like rhubarb, they were all over that festival too. So, I stayed for the camaraderie and the living history.
Members of the very active Shawano County Historical Society manned booths, sold goodies, refilled supplies, greeted guests and worked very hard to make sure their festival ran smoothly.
I bought a scoop of Culver’s Custard with rhubarb sauce and a friendly historical society woman checking the custard supply asked me if I was enjoying myself. Everytime I popped into one of the eight historical musem buildings, someone came right up to me and asked if I had any questions.
We enjoyed some rhubarb lemonade and a rhubarb slush while we listened to the cleverly named musician Ike Arumba and his guests Burnt Toast with Jam. It felt so great to hear live music again.
Later, I wandered the grounds and enjoyed a stroll through yesteryear.
I paused in front of a display of Effie Hammond Rindt’s pony wagon, which included a photo of Effie, her pony Pete and her little dog, and as I read about her, Effie’s grandson Mike set aside the piece of rhubarb pie he was eating and came over to tell me all about Effie and the Rindt family farm. Mike still farms on the land first established by his family in 1856.
A nice lady in period costume sat in a tent and sold rhubarb sauce and homemade cornbread. Tents set up along the channel between the Wolf River and Shawano Lake housed a fur trader and various other pioneers reenactors.
I think the Shawano County Historical Society must be one of the most impressive in the state. They run an active Facebook page that posts really interesting look-back photos all the time. They also oversee a museum complex that includes the 1871 John Kast house, a one-room schoolhouse, log cabin, cheese exhibit building, a natural limestone building, railroad depot and reception building.
And they run the sweetest festival in the land.
If you missed this year’s festival, don’t despair. Guided tours of the museum grounds are available through August every Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and by appointment.