Jeanne Benachek, 3, and Sara Raymond, 5, learned Sunday afternoon that stone carving is hard work.
The two girls got a glimpse of history at Tenino’s Oregon Trial Days — putting chisels to sandstone, learning to dip their own candles and more. Their mother, Tonya Cabin, of Rochester, said the girls enjoyed the festival so much that she’ll continue their historical education. She said she plans to stop at Swan’s Candle Making Supplies to purchase more materials to make candles.
“They haven’t done these kinds of activities before,” Cabin said. “So they’re enjoying every part of it.”
The goal of these hands-on activities is for people to remember history, to keep alive skills used for hundreds of years, said Bill Hill of the Tenino Depot Museum. He said he spent about a year planning the festival, making sure it was rich with educational activities. He and the community pulled together about 15 different hands-on activities, set up in front of the museum — including crosscut sawing, spike driving, cider pressing, stone carving and candle dipping.
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“We don’t want to lose some of the amazing history that we have here,” Hill said. “This is our way of letting people know who we are, what Tenino is.”
Ed Salerno, who works with Tenino’s master stonecutter Keith Phillips, said it was that kind of hands-on education that got him started in the business. He used to stop by Phillips’ carving shed on Olympia Street and caught the bug. He said it was a lot of fun teaching kids how to carve at the festival — and it’s a great way to strengthen ties in the community.
“The stone kind of ties together the community out here,” Salerno said. “People like to say this is a disappearing art, but it’s not in Tenino.”
Hill said that attendance to the three-day festival, which ran Friday through Sunday, was great this year. A majority of visitors came by Saturday to watch the parade, participate in the black powder shoot, and more.