Photos courtesy CLATSOP COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Parents, want to get your kids outside for a day of fun? How about one last hurrah before the main school year gets started? Take the kids to the second annual Victorian Fun and Games Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 and 11, on the front lawn of the Flavel House Museum.
The Clatsop County Historical Society provides the event so children can learn some history in a fun setting, discover new games and see how Victorian children entertained themselves, said Sam Rascoe, the society's director of marketing. "What was fun was to see the kids having a good time without Nintendo," he said of last year's event. "It was just a nice casual day."
Rascoe said he was amazed at how much the kids enjoyed the activities. Kids stayed for hours, and some came for both days, he said. Two children came in costume. Rascoe encourages both kids and adults who attend this year to dress up.
Rascoe may have been there to facilitate, but he had fun too. He played badminton and croquet and demonstrated poking a rolling hoop along with a stick and the game of Graces, where players fling hoops at other players who try to catch them on sticks.
Rascoe said hoops were flying everywhere.
"Mostly what it was last year was a chance for the kids to get out and play with the toys of the period," he said. "It was for families ... The adults had fun with it too, but it's primarily a kid thing."
This year, kids will sit down for storytime with Sandy Van Meer, who tells stories about the little fairy people who live in the Flavel yard. Youngsters can play with hoops and sticks, balance eggs on spoons for an egg race, run sack races and three-legged races and play croquet and badminton. Wooden games include checkers and a game where a ball is attached to a cup with a string. Players hold the cup and try to flick the ball into it.
The Astoria Cricket Club was made of of 'mostly British citizens,' according to this photo's note, around the turn of the century.The highlight is definitely the pie-eating contest. "The kids had a blast with it," Rascoe said. "Any opportunity to get messy." Last year, whipped cream was spread on plates for the kids, who were not allowed to use their hands. In less than a minute, the pie was gone, cream decorated everyone's chin and the kids were begging to do it again.
"There's some movement among our committees that there should be real pie," said the Historical Society's director Mac Burns, laughing.
Not a public gathering went by in the Victorian era without the strapping young men of the Astoria Fire Department's Hose Pull Team showing off in a race or a demonstration.Rascoe is anticipating the return of "the marble guy," who will be handing out marbles and teaching the game of marbles to kids. "Everywhere he goes, he hands out marbles," Rascoe said. He also expects rope maker Kenny Ginn to return.
"There will be various games and contests as well as demonstrations and music throughout the day," Rascoe said.
The historical society will sell corn dogs, root beer floats and other period snacks. People can try making rope, hooking rugs, quilting, apple pressing or making paper flowers, all authentic American crafts, Burns said. He is also hoping for spinning wool and butter churning.
In 1890, William Warren (left) and Fred Merrill were known for their prowess in the popular sport of bicycling.One difficulty with the churning is that the society's supply of baby food jars has run out. Kids fill the jars with cream and shake them to make butter. Burns hopes inquiring minds will think up another way to demonstrate churning, perhaps with plastic bags.
Rascoe thanked NW Natural Gas for sponsoring both last year's and this year's event so the Historical Society could advertise the event, buy some of the equipment needed and purchase prizes for the kids. All children who complete all the activities get a prize like a wooden top or other old-fashioned game. The event is free to the public.
The Clatsop County Historical Society operates the Captain George Flavel House Museum, along with the Heritage and Firefighters' museums.
The winner of the pie-eating contest thoroughly creamed the competition.
Kenny Ginn, normally seen at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, demonstrates making rope.
Victorian games include marbles, three-legged races, croquet and walking on stilts.