Heritage Day in Baker (VIDEO)

Baker Heritage Day

Danny Turner, a Baker School ninth-grader, draws a bead on a distant target with a colonial-era muzzle-loading rifle as his friend Wyatt Shumway enjoys the spectacle.

BRIAN HUGHES | News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 04:37 PM.

BAKER — When the chips are down, it means Bill Alford or Carl Commander are making another cypress shingle.

The men returned to the Baker Heritage Day festival and, as in years past, their artisanship and skill were top attractions during a day in which traditional local culture was front and center.

Using traditional tools and methods, the men sent wood chips flying through the spicy-scented air, the fragrant aroma of freshly hewn wood rising as they shaved each shingle precisely to size.

Nearby, an old-fashioned John Deere motor sputtered along, churning the dasher inside a large wooden ice cream bucket. The warm, sunny day made the cold treats especially welcome to Rebecca Smith, 7, who smiled as she sampled a dish and pronounced it “good!”

Organizers from the North Okaloosa Heritage Association, which produces the annual event at the Heritage Park adjacent to their Baker Block Museum, were pleased with the turnout; a News Bulletin reporter observed an estimated 200 patrons while attending. But museum and association Director Ann Spann said attendance didn’t reach past levels.

“We’ve had more people before but there were so many events that day,” she said. “But we were happy and I think everybody enjoyed it.”

While wood chips flew around Alford and Commander, on the other side of the park, sparks flew as smithies hammered glowing metal heated in a small forge with a hand-cranked blower. Inside the cabins, costumed re-enactors demonstrated domestic tasks, including churning fresh butter from cream, making applesauce and toffee, quilting and spinning yarn.

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