Family members of all ages can bond at Fort Worth’s Log Cabin Village, whether they are thrashing wheat together for fall harvest or dipping candles for the winter season. The village, dedicated to explaining frontier history holds various family events throughout the year. The most recent event, Jeepers Reapers!, demonstrated harvest time, a critical part of life during the 19th century.
“Being on University Drive, we don’t have all these large fields to illustrate that,” Log Cabin Village educator Rena Lawrence said. “So what we’re able to do is kind of give a taste of what harvest would be like.”
Participants threshed and winnowed wheat by hand, just as Texas farmers did before using machinery.
“Thrashing entails having what is called a flail, which you’re actually beating the wheat with to get the kernels to come away,” Lawrence said, “and winnowing is where you’re taking a basket and you’re throwing the kernels and the straw that’s leftover up in the air to get the straw out, so you can be left with these nice beautiful little wheat kernels.”
This year the village brought back cornhusk dolls for the optional Jeepers Reapers! craft.
“This is something that was very popular with children on the Anglo frontier,” Lawrence said. “It was popular with Native American children and it was popular with Hispanic children, so it’s one of those truly cross-cultural crafts.”
The event also taught visitors about the process of making tortillas. Participants grinded corn for making masa with a Spanish tejolote in a molcajete, or a mortar and pestle. Afterward, they pressed tortillas using the masa dough.
“We want kids to get the idea that it starts as corn and ends as tortillas, and how it was good to have a grist mill that would grind corn in large quantities, because if they ground it all by hand, how would you feed a family?” Lawrence asked. “For the same reason we have a corn-sheller, which is the thing that takes kernels off the ears of corn after it’s dried. We have a hand crank so they (the kids) get to try that out too.”
Lawrence said the village has hands-on activities so kids and adults feel engaged and connected. She believes events like Jeepers Reapers! bring families closer together in addition to the education they provide about history.
“It was a beautiful story,” Lawrence said. “Jeepers Reapers used to be called Maze Days. There was a family that was Hispanic. There was a grandmother, a mother, and a grandson, and the grandmother was telling the grandson about how she used to grind corn like this in a molcajete… But she was telling it to the mother in Spanish, who was then translating it to her son. So they were having this really great multi-generational connected moment… We’re providing a place for families to make connections to each other as well as making connections to the past.”
Jeepers Reapers! isn’t the only event where family members have found connections at the Log Cabin Village.
“I have this great picture from our event last spring where there are three generations out there plowing together,” Lawrence said. “These are the moments you just can’t manufacture.”
The village has several more family events before the end of the year, including performances from the Buttermilk Junction Old Time String Band, candle dipping and photos with St. Nicholas. The price is $4 for ages 4-17 years and 65 years and older and $4.50 for ages 18 to 65. Children 3 years old and younger are free. Some events have craft and photo fees.
For a complete list of events, participants may visit www.logcabinvillage.com and click on the “events” tab. The Log Cabin Village is located at 2100 Log Cabin Village Lane directly west of University Drive South, one block south of Colonial Parkway. For more information visitors may call 817-392-5881.