Oven and Sorghum Press Among Demonstrations at Prairie Days

The 2016 Prairie Days will feature many historical demonstrations. Volunteers will be demonstrating how pioneers would have made homemade bread in the outdoor bake oven, also known as the cob oven. The oven construction was completed during the summer of 2014 and is located near the northwest corner of the log house. Volunteers will build a fire in the oven to heat it, then remove the coals and sprinkle cornmeal on the oven surface to prevent sticking. The bread dough, cookies, or any other baked goods can then be prepared before the oven cools down again. The public will have the opportunity to try samples of white bread, wheat bread, or ginger molasses cookies all prepared in the oven at Shawnee Prairie. The full loaves of bread and cookies will be available for a donation during Prairie Days in the General Store.

Also back this year are the sorghum pressing and boiling demonstrations. Journey to the top of the hill to witness stalks of sorghum, grown in Darke County, pressed to release their sweet juice. There will be two presses from the late 19th century in operation for the weekend. One is owned by the Park District and was restored by park volunteer Jim Poeppelman of Versailles. The other is on loan from Ted Abney, owner of The Bistro off Broadway in Greenville. After capturing the sweet liquid from pressing the stalks, volunteers will boil it down similarly to making maple syrup. The processed sorghum, also known as sorghum molasses, will be available for a donation while supplies last.

In addition to these demonstrations, visitors will also see blacksmiths working in the shop, a broom maker making corn brooms, apple butter boiling over an open fire, and many more historical demonstrations.

Come check out all of these trades and all the other fun, educational, and family friendly activities at the 2016 Prairie Days festival, September 24th from 10am to 5pm and September 25th from 12pm to 5pm. The event has plenty of free parking and free admission. For questions or more information, call the Nature Center at (937) 548-0165 or email info@darkecountyparks.org. 

Did you know? Removing the seed heads a few weeks prior to pressing the sorghum stalks makes for much sweeter product.