Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2003

Lecompton to mark its territorial heritage with annual festival

June 26, 2003


As the only official capital of the Kansas Territory during the bloody days preceding the Civil War, Lecompton played a key role in Kansas history.

The town celebrates that history this weekend with its annual Territorial Days celebration.

"This festival recognizes the history of Lecompton that was so important," said Paul Bahnmaier, an event organizer.

Events kick off Friday with family night at a downtown carnival from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Ottawa Amusement Inc. will bring in games and rides. An admission bracelet allows attendees to ride as many times as they like. A teen street dance begins right after the carnival.

New to the festival this year is a pedal tractor pull for children ages 4 to 12. Children can register at any festival event and will compete in age categories to see who can pull the most to win a trophy crowned with a tractor.

"We're always looking for new ideas for the kids for free events," said Susan Clemons, an organizer for the event. "This is just something we're trying this year."

One popular children's event that has endured through the years is the frog and turtle race. Every year, area children collect frogs and turtles for the race that begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

"The frog and turtle race is something out of the past that the kids around here really enjoy," said Penny Bahret, a festival organizer.

Children also will have the chance to learn about history from people demonstrating pioneer skills beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at Constitution Hall. Some of the skills include blacksmithing, woodcarving, broom making, potting and fishing in the Kaw River.

The main event will be a re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Titus at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Lane University. The battle occurred in 1856, when anti-slavery forces from Lawrence attacked three pro-slavery forts that were cutting off supplies to the city. Fort Titus was the final fort and gave the most resistance. Col. H.T. Titus was wounded in the battle and at least two men died.

Re-enactors from the Kansas Civil War Re-enactors Assn. will camp on the site, eating and sleeping just as soldiers of the day would have.

Gary Kroeger, Lecompton, said he had attended the festival for 19 years. He said he took his children to the re-enactments, which only happen every few years, and has been taking his grandchildren so they could learn about Civil War times.

"My grandkids just love it," he said. "The kids get to see how soldiers of that time really lived."

Other events Saturday include a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. in the community building, a downtown parade at 11 a.m., United Methodist Church pot-luck dinner at 11:30 a.m., historic piano recital at 4 p.m. at the church, Americana Music Academy Community Jam at 1 p.m. downtown, "Bleeding Kansas" play at 2:30 at Territorial Capital Museum, and an ice- cream social at 6 p.m. in City Park. Saturday events conclude with a concert by Crow Canyon, a Lawrence-area country band, and street dance at 9 p.m.

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