BAKER — The rhythm of Indian drums called residents to the Baker Block Museum Saturday night to celebrate Okaloosa County’s centennial.
“We had a real good turnout,” North Okaloosa Historical Association President Tracy Curenton said. As the sun set, more than 50 people gathered at Heritage Park for an evening’s flashback at the county’s early days.
Attendees slurped home-churned ice cream, visited historic buildings — including the family outhouse of regional benefactor Mabel Jean Morrison — and enjoyed heritage performances.
Folks gathered on the steps, porch and in chairs around the dog trot house as historic impersonator Bonnie Grundel, costumed in a genuine 1930s sackcloth dress and apron, presented the story of a typical Depression-era sharecropper’s wife.
Her character’s older son, she said, had just gotten hired by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a 1930s program that employed the jobless on various public works projects. “It’s a good opportunity for him,” Grundel said in character. “He’s going to learn something other than farming. That’s mighty important to me as a mother.
“Don’t get me wrong. Farmers are good people, but I want my kids to have something more than what we have.”
Crestview resident and entertainment producer Mary Mancini praised Grundel’s performance. “You can tell she did her homework,” Mancini said. “It’s not easy getting up there in character like that and performing live.”
Events alternated between Grundel’s presentation and Baker residents Thom and Judy Dandridge's Indian drum circle performance. The couple demonstrated how to make the ornate drums, and explained the various rhythms performed.
As the sun sank below the horizon, the drum circle moved around a bonfire, adding a cheerful glow to the performances.
“This was a real nice event,” resident Joseph Capoli said. “It really gives a sense of the area’s history.”