by Elizabeth Schlaker

On Sept. 18 and 19, 2021, the Boone County History and Culture Center hosted its annual Heritage Festival. Activities included numerous craft vendors, a petting zoo, a hayride, many food trucks, and tours of the culture center and Maplewood House. Attendees enjoyed a diverse lineup of live music and performances which featured blues, folk, Native American, and Chinese performers.

The Maplewood House and historic Village at Boone Junction, which lie on the History and Culture Center grounds, were open free to the public and saw over 300 people over the weekend. In total, over 1,000 people attended the Heritage Festival.

For the past several years, the Boone County History and Culture Center has hosted the free event to give the Columbia community the chance to experience and learn about traditions from the past. People who attended the event had the opportunity to make candles, grind corn, milk wooden cows, and witness artisans use spindles and looms.

“Walking around the mountain men campsite gave me an interesting look into the past,” said Angela Schlaker, an attendee and volunteer for the event. “I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to experience anything like this, so I have really enjoyed my time here today.”

One highlight for Angela was the farmer’s market and the chance to buy locally grown produce. “I enjoyed looking through the fresh produce and choosing some vegetables to take home. It’s a completely different experience than going to the grocery store.”

Some of this year’s activities looked a little different than those in years past. Madeline Bloss, the volunteer coordinator for the Boone County History and Culture Center, explains that some changes were made with the well-being of attendees in mind.

“This year, we changed how we offer tours of the historic Maplewood House for the safety of our visitors and volunteers,” Bloss said. “In years past, Maplewood has been open for self-guided tours with docents throughout to give information about different rooms in the house,” she continued. “This year, we instead offered tours every 15 minutes to small groups led by trained docents. This helped reduce the number of people in the house at any given time and also gave visitors more time with docents to ask questions and to hear the history of the house.”

Bloss remarked on her favorite part of the festival, “My favorite part of Heritage Festival this year was seeing the excitement on the faces of adults and kids alike when they finally entered our historic Village at Boone Junction or Maplewood House after so long of being closed to visitors due to the pandemic. Nothing compares to seeing people enjoy Boone County’s history in our historic structures.”

Edited by Ryan Cohen