Barns and wigwams at the historical society

The Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road, will host a barn raising day — a hands-on history event — Saturday, May 16, from 11 to 1.
One of the highlights of this free event will be a wigwam. Jennifer Lee, a Narragansett Native American descendant, is a re-enactor who portrays an Algonkian woman circa 1750. Her conical  wigwam, 18 feet wide at the base, is equipped with the accouterments of daily life, such as birch bark baskets, clay pots, clothing of deer hide, wool, and linen; beadwork; traditional bow, arrows and quivers, drums and rattles. She will share local history, true stories, and talk about the objects in her tent, which holds 15 to 20 people.
“The whole barn raising day is about learning by getting up close and personal with history” said Leslie Nolan, the society’s executive director.
“Back when Wilton was a farming community, a barn raising brought everyone together for a building project.  The young people learned how to build a barn through hands-on experience, and it was a social event as well — our barn raising day is like that. You can sit in a wigwam, try your hand at raising a child-size barn, wool carding, weaving, spoke shaving, and learn about all kinds of traditional crafts and historical activities, from basket weaving to blacksmithing. It’s a great family day, the kids love it!”
The day’s activities include:

  • Experience life in a wigwam;

  • Raise a child-size barn;

  • Try your hand at spoke shaving (barn pegs);

  • Taste and vote! Annual Heritage Baking Contest;

  • See a blacksmith at his forge;

  • Savor and learn about hearth cooking;

  • Card wool and see it spun;

  • Learn about basket making.

Exhibitions will also be open in the Burt Barn and the Sloan House Gallery: Denyse Schmidt: In The Making, Historic Inspirations/New Quilts and One Loop at a Time: June Myles’ Hooked Art.