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Take a trip to the 1800s at Myakka River Rendezvous

Vennie Hotchkiss sews a boot.
Vennie Hotchkiss sews a boot.
Photo by Ian Swaby
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The Myakka River Rendezvous, a pre-1840s living history event, encourages visitors to leave the hustle of everyday life behind, according to Dixie Resnick, CEO Of Crowley Museum & Nature Center.

In fact, camper Don Johnston said he walks through the grounds of the nature center at night with just an oil lamp to light the way — when he hears a rustling in the bushes, all he can think of is Ichabod Crane.

The event, now in its third year, sees campers and traders coming together to enjoy a historic lifestyle and showcase their passions like sewing, tomahawk throwing, archery, hat weaving, historic weapons recreation and more, offering live demonstrations and hands-on opportunities for visitors.

The site was open to the public Feb. 3-4 and will be open to the public again on Feb. 10-11. 

Blacksmith Thomas Littrell creates an "S" hook.
Photo by Ian Swaby

While presenters come from across the country, the rendezvous is also offering an opportunity for Sarasota residents to showcase their love of history, like Thomas Littrell, a blacksmith of eight years who operates Litt Forge on Sawyer Road and is offering demonstrations and activities at the nature center's forge. 

"I like to do these events here with Crowley because it's a beautiful historical place, and it's got a lot of history, and I enjoy history,” he said. “That’s what got me into blacksmithing.”

After he watched a season of the History Channel series "Iron & Fire," he sought out one of its stars, Daniel Casey, and had the opportunity to learn the craft from him. 

“It's difficult, it’s dangerous, it's hot, but it's very rewarding,” he said. 

Preston Hendershot, 12, showcases woodcutting.
Photo by Ian Swaby

For Resnick, the experience isn't just about discovering the ways of the past. It's also about taking a break from modern life. 

“Everything slows down, because you're not getting everything so fast, like all the information flying at you on your phone,” said Resnick. “You're here, you're in the moment. You're in nature, you're with people. Everything that's going on around you is your world at the time. I think otherwise, we live in a world where we're constantly bombarded by everything all at once.”

This story has been updated to correct the event dates.



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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