SALEM, W.Va. – Christmas season is here and while everyone is out shopping for the perfect new technology, Fort New Salem wanted to highlight what it was like to celebrate the holidays with their annual Christmas in the Mountains event Saturday.
The event was centered around the rich heritage and culture dating back to settler times. Organizers said that it was a portrayal of historic and cultural folkways of the Scottish, Irish, and German Settlers in West Virginia.
Visitors were able to learn about a few of the trades from the time period, such as woodworking and blacksmith techniques, through demonstrations put on by volunteers like Ken Aucremanne.
Aucremanne has been volunteering at Fort New Salem for quite some time and said that these demonstrations are just a few ways for the community to get involved in the past.
“So it seems like every time we do this, there’s one or two kids that just get really excited and they end up coming back here and just shaving wood on a spoke shave for like an hour,” Aucremanne explained.
He said that it is important to keep the heritage of West Virginia alive through events like these that show hard work and dedication.
“I think it’s really critical that we don’t let our generation and the generations that are coming forget just how much work and sacrifice it took to make what we have today a reality.”
The grounds were filled with more than just trade activities. From cabin to cabin, visitors were surrounded with knowledge about Christmas in the 1800’s and the tales of how gifting oranges symbolized good fortune.
A main activity at the event was learning about meal preparation. Visitors were able to try roasted chestnuts and cookies and then head over to the kitchen for a lesson on how many resources weren’t just a grocery trip away.
Becky Nesbitt, who has been working and volunteering for Fort New Salem for more than 30 years, said that many people don’t realize the amount of hard work that went into meals.
She explained that because of new technology, people have forgotten about what came before them.
“Because we’re so used to just being able to just go to a store and buy whatever we need, whenever we need it. One of the things I emphasize in [my demonstration] is that no, you couldn’t do that.”
Nesbitt explained that reminding visitors about the past can often give them a new outlook on the future.
“And this just helps reconnect you to the older ways of life.”
To find out more about the Christmas in the Mountains event and how to get involved, click here.