Breene, one of my beta readers (and sister-in-law), shares her experience at the 2017 Milwaukee Indian Summer Fest. Our area has so many festivals throughout the year it would be impossible to visit them all.
Take it away Breene!
What makes a festival truly enjoyable is the weather and it was perfect for a Fall festival!
The outfits were beautiful and stunning. As one Native American speaker explained, the style of dress is not referred to as costumes. Wearing a costume means you are pretending to be someone you are not, like the current tradition of wearing costumes on Halloween: “We are not pretending to be Native American. It is who we are in our blood.”
He went on to explain what was special about his outfit and explained its importance. “Long ago my people lived on the plains and the grass grew tall and it swayed in the wind.” He held up his arms and showed how the streamers on his sleeves represented the blowing grass in the wind. He demonstrated how the people stomped on the grass to clear out an area. This led to the tradition of the Grass Dancers.
The people at the event were more than willing to share information about their own personal tribe ancestry. On the fair grounds they built a Living Culture Area in which people could either watch or participate in a number of Ojibwe Language games and songs, learn how to start a fire using a bow drill, listen to storytelling, and so much more. One woman explained her weaving technique and shared that she set up the loom on Education Day with the school children.
One could spend most of the day just watching the main Pow Wow with the variety of dancers showing of their skills and regalia. The Pow Wow began with a wonderful tribute to the Veterans who process out on the main floor. This was followed by the different category of dancers. The speaker did a wonderful job explaining the meaning of each of the dances.
Of course part of experiencing the culture is to enjoy the food. There were so many good choices. I decided on the Indian Summer Taco which was a taco on fry bread, ground beef, tomato, lettuce, and sour cream. Quite delicious! Good choice.
There was amateur boxing, which was something different for me to experience live versus watching it on television.
If you want to spend a little extra money they also provided the opportunity to go on a canoe ride, which was not for me. Maybe I’ll save that for next year. There was already so much to see and do.
I also spent time perusing the vendors of unique art sculptures, pottery, clothing, paintings, and so much more. I found a colorful Fall purse as a memento of the trip. I watched a traditional cooking demonstration, went on a plant walk, and even played a little bingo.
There was so much to see and experience at the Indian Summer Festival. I truly felt like I had been transported back in time. I highly encourage anyone visiting the Milwaukee area to treat yourself to this wonderful festival right on Lake Michigan.