“Frontier Days: Step Into the Past” is your chance to see three museums in just four hours and enjoy lots of hands-on activities and free food to boot.
Participating museums are the Museum of the Great Plains, the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, and the Hobart-based General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum.
The event is free and open to the public from 1-5 p.m. Saturday in Elmer Thomas Park. Sponsors are the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, Lawton Kia, Comanche Nation Entertainment and General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum.
The Museum of the Great Plains and the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center will have special hours that day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General Tommy Franks’ mobile museum will set up at noon in the vicinity of the Centennial statue and start serving its free Buffalo Burger Cookout at 1 p.m.
“They’ve been gracious enough to sponsor the meat,” said Logan Ralston, Convention and Visitors Bureau project officer. “They’ll be free while supplies last.”
Ralston said this is a chance to showcase local history and culture, and he’s hoping people from surrounding areas will want to come.
Chuckwagon S’mores were the big hit of the inaugural “Frontier Days” last year, according to Museum of the Great Plains Curator John Hernandez. Kids just couldn’t get enough of them.
The event gave the museum the opportunity to provide more hands-on activities and extend what the staff already does. Hernandez promises to have even more activities this year. Museum staffers and board members will both be helping out along with volunteers from the chamber’s “A Community of One” organization, the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark, the Lawton Rangers and Lawton’s historic Mattie Beal Home.
“We’ve got a new educator. His name is Trevor Williams,” said Hernandez. He will either be in the gallery or the one-room schoolhouse. Even though it’s a little early in the year, Hernandez plans to have a fully decorated Christmas tree inside the renovated schoolhouse.
“That will be our hands-on activities area,” he said. That’s where children will be putting together handmade ornaments to take home or add to the tree inside the schoolhouse.
Kids will also be invited to make gourd rattles or conchos as part of their frontier learning experience. The 1830s-era Red River Trading Post is where they can watch fire-making demonstrations and see how a blacksmith gets down to business with horses and mules.
This year children will learn how to make biscuits in a Dutch oven. Rope-making, printmaking and beaded necklaces are also part of the fun. A flute player and a Mattie Beal re-enactor will be on the upper floor of the Museum of the Great Plains. An outdoor “Indian City” is also planned.
Candy Taylor, director of the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, said cultural specialist Carney Saupitty Jr. will be giving demonstrations on the Comanche shortbow. He’ll have targets set up outdoors to allow visitors a chance to try shooting a Comanche shortbow themselves.
Weather permitting, the Comanche Nation Youth Dancers will perform at intervals on the back patio of the Comanche National Museum between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.