Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Plan ahead to participate in commemoration

May 25, 2006

Descendants of John Brown and August Bondi will take part in commemoration events related to the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack the weekend of June 2-3.

Diane Niehoff, member of the Black Jack Battlefield Board of Directors, said that weekend would be a very busy one in Baldwin, so the town should be ready.

"It's also Baker's Methodist convention, the citywide garage sale and Thomas the Tank, so I tried to alert the restaurants to have plenty of food and help, because there are going to be a lot of people in town to eat that day," Niehoff said.

On the morning of June 3, there will be descendants of John Brown and August Bondi, two key players in the events of the time, speaking in Rice Auditorium at Baker University.

The Jacob Lawrence art exhibit "Legends of John Brown" is on display at Holt-Russell Gallery from May 22 to June 19.

Food fit for a free state

There will be a lot to do out at the battlefield all weekend. It all starts at 6 p.m. June 2 with the campfire supper, which will feature buffalo stew and other fare of the time. John Brown Ale will be provided by Free State Brewing Co. of Lawrence. Commemorative mugs will be part of the $20 cost. Children can eat for $6, but won't get a mug.

"In addition to seeing the battlefield and all of the work the volunteers have been doing, there will be a buffalo stew prepared by Free State Brewery," Niehoff said. "This is supposed to be a fundraiser for the Black Jack Battlefield Trust."

Dave Hill, Mid-America Bank president and member of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust Board of Directors, said the food would enhance the weekend celebration.

"If it was us doing it, we would have hamburgers and hot dogs," Hill said. "The really cool thing is we are going to have a buffalo soup, some beer and cornbread. I think the food is going to be a tremendous contribution."

Rick Martin, head chef at Free State Brewery, said the night should be a fun social event.

"I think people should realize it's going to be a fun time," Martin said. "It's not just going out and seeing the sites, it's also a social event with some brew."

Martin said he was contacted about the Black Jack celebration after helping the city of Lawrence with its 150th anniversary.

"I think I got involved because I did a period dinner for Lawrence's sesquicentennial celebration," Martin said. "I was asked to be a resource for the food, but I thought it would be a lot of fun to cater it. I don't really see it as catering it, but I see it as being involved in it."

Free State also will serve John Brown ale and Black Jack porter with the meal.

"It ties in really well with what Free State is all about anyway," Free State's Brad Taylor said. "We have always had John Brown ale on tap, and we do Black Jack porter."

Packed with events

There also will be live music and battlefield tours during the dinner.

"There will be tours of the battlefield from people knowledgeable of the battle," Niehoff said. "There will be tours of the native plants. Dr. (Roger) Boyd is tagging all of the native plants. The Santa Fe Trail Historical Society will be at the cabin along the highway and also at the memorial park."

After the dinner, a program about John Brown will take place, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Niehoff said the events Friday were probably the major events of the weekend.

"It would probably be Friday, mainly because that is the actual anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack," Niehoff said. "There are a lot of things going on Saturday morning, too."

Saturday's events begin with a breakfast on the prairie at 7:30 a.m. There will a portrayal of August Bondi at 9 a.m.

The Blue & Gray Brigade will start playing music at 10 a.m., which is the same time the battlefield and nature tours begin. The Blue & Gray Brigade plays traditional American patriotic music.

Then visitors are welcome to have lunch on their own in Baldwin, before returning to the battlefield at 1:30 p.m. for a narrated motor coach tour of John Brown's trail.

"Everybody is starting to get excited about this, which is something you want," Hill said. "Some of them have roots that tie back to people who were in this thing 150 years ago. I think the community is very interested and supportive."

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