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Oral History Festival and One-Room School Reunion Added to Lifestyle Days Event in Springfield

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The 2016 Gray/Campbell Farmstead Expo celebrates its 25th year on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18, at the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Organizers will recreate pioneer living experiences, including activities and displays centered around one-room Liberty School and other authentic buildings that were crucial to the settlement of Springfield, including the oldest house in the area.

Visitors will have a unique opportunity to walk the Kickapoo Edge Prairie as it was at the time the Grays and Campbells settled Springfield – along with seven slaves who certainly helped develop the homestead 160 years ago. The event is entirely free.

The dedication of Liberty School at the Springfield Botanical Gardens featured former students at the authentic one-room school as well as students who raised the American flag for the occasion.

The dedication of Liberty School at the Springfield Botanical Gardens featured former students at the authentic one-room school as well as students who raised the American flag for the occasion.

You can also discover how to collect an oral history and see a demonstration with a former one-room school attendee starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. To register for the program, visit the Greene County Extension office or contact them at 417-881-8909 or reach David Burton by email at burtond@missouri.edu.

The “Collecting Oral Histories” portion of the class begins at 9 a.m. and there is a $10 fee to cover the cost of materials. The first 25 people to pre-register will receive a Gray-Campbell Farmstead T-shirt. The interview portion of the program — with a former one-room school attendee — begins at 10 a.m.

The “One-Room School Reunion” kicks off at 11:30 a.m. in conjunction with the Lifestyle Expo. There will be tours of Liberty School, special exhibits highlighting one-room schools in Greene County, an opportunity to socialize with other one-room school attendees, period math quizzes, a spelling bee, and more.

Getting water at Gray-Campbell Farmstead Lifestyle Expo on a rainy day in 2012

Getting water at Gray-Campbell Farmstead Lifestyle Expo on a rainy day in 2012

The farmstead is one of the oldest destinations in adjoining Nathanael Greene and Close Memorial Parks. Part of the experience is the Kickapoo Edge Prairie, just what John Polk Campbell Campbell would have been seeking at the original homestead occupied by the Campbell family from 1860’s to the 1950’s. The home was moved to Nathanael Greene Park in 1984 when the Kansas and James River Expressways were built.

The expo includes artisans demonstrating the very techniques and pastimes that sustained the original settlers, from flat bread, popped corn and cookies on an open hearth cooking fire to quilt-making, dancing and even Sunday morning outdoor church services and a pie contest.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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