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Hampton/Shaler

Fall festival offers trip back in time

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Ed Tutino is a longtime baker and open-hearth cook at the Depreciation Lands Museum’s hydref festival.
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Dave Browning has volunteered as a fur trader to the Indians at past Depreciation Lands Museum festivals.
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William Hill works on baskets at the Depreciation Lands Museum. He weaves split oak baskets in a craft handed down through generations of his family.

Hydref, which means autumn in Welsh, is a centuries-old fall festival being celebrated once again at the Depreciation Lands Museum in Allison Park.

The museum’s annual event will be held on Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Depreciation Lands Museum has been celebrating the hydref tradition for more than 45 years, said Karen Parsons, a museum volunteer.

The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $3 for children 11 and younger. Depreciation Lands Museum members have free admission.

This year’s hydref will feature all-day live music, food, volunteer re-enactors, hands-on activities and historical learning opportunities for children and adults. The food served is from 18th-century dishes and methods of
cooking.

“It’s an educational experience. People enjoy many activities and crafts there they didn’t even know that people still do,” said Parsons.

Visitors can catch the work of a local glassblower as well as seeing flintlock guns, muzzleloaders and demonstrations and how to make a bullet.

A new demonstrator to the hydref are brain tanners Loren and Liza Stallsmith, who own Circle S Leather in northwestern Pennsylvania. They will be showcasing their brain tanned leather, with some hands-on activities on the process.

Brain tanning is an “ancient method of tanning hides that involves dressing a raw hide with brains, or other natural emulsified oils, softening it with manual labor to produce soft buckskin and smoking it to preserve the softness,” according to Liza.

Distinct features of brain tanned leather is “you can pass a needle through it without it breaking,” unlike other leathers that are more tough, said Liza.

The process is more difficult and time-consuming, something they’ve been doing for approximately 15 years from their home located north of Mercer, she said.

This technique can be done on a variety of animals, including buffalo, antelope and sheep. The Stallsmiths mostly use Pennsylvania deer and elk.

It’s popular with Native Americans and is ideal for beading, said Liza. It has been around for centuries, she said.

The North Hills Genealogists have been displaying at the festival since 2011. Their mission is to teach people how to research their family history, said Dave Williams, a representative of the North Hills Genealogists. They will have handouts and furnish advice regarding genealogy.

“We can offer help from how to get started up to how to access advanced research material,” he said.

Visitors can catch a yarn-dying exhibit as well as seeing flintlock guns, muzzleloaders and demonstrations and how to make a bullet.

It’s also a good way to start your Christmas shopping, said Parsons.

Their returning honeybee display is a favorite, she said.

Food is a big draw for many at the festival, where they make their traditional lunch of hot sandwiches or soup served in the tavern.

“It depends on the weather on what’s more popular,” said Parsons.

And a baker will be making fresh baked goods.

Children will have a lot of activities to “touch, feel and try,” including making their own jump ropes, said Parsons.

The museum is located on a lot, featuring the Pine Creek Covenanter Church, built in 1837, and the associated cemetery, the Armstrong log house, built in 1803, an herb garden, a replica school, circa 1885, working blacksmith shop, bee hive bake oven, smoke house and Tavern, and an 18th century-style gathering place.

The colonial-era living museum is open every Sunday from May to October. For details, got to depreciationlandsmusuem.org .

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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