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Old and new toys featured at Snowshoe Festival

Staff reports

Beanie Babies and pillow case dolls – children’s toys about 150 years part in style – will be featured at the Snowshoe Thompson Festival next weekend in Genoa.

The Beanie Babies were donated by Steve Stratton of Carson Valley Pharmacy and include one each of the Princess, Erin, Peace, Valentino and Curly bears. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.

Pillow case dolls will be just one of the many kinds of crafts and everyday skills to be on exhibit by the Nevada Civil War Volunteers at Mormon Station State Park.

The pillow case dolls were made in the 1840s for children moving West with their parents. The youngsters were unable to take toys along the trail because of the extra weight and limited space in the wagons, so mothers used children’s pillow cases and embroidered them to look like dolls.

The dolls didn’t have arms or legs, just a “head,” which was the pillow case stuffed with straw or fabric. In the evening, dolls once again became pillow cases for the pillows the children used.

Judy Sabatini of the Nevada Civil War Volunteers will show and sell her pillow case dolls at the festival.

Other prizes to be given away in the raffle during the festival include dinners, tours, bottles of wine and other items donated by area merchants, says Liz Paul of the Carson Valley Historical Society. The society is sponsoring the festival.

History is the theme for the weekend, as the Living History Company of Nevada will set up a 35-foot Western town facade, present a Nevada gunfighters skit, show how to spin yarn and offer a living history children’s area with hands-on demonstrations.

Various historical personages will perform on stage and stroll through the crowd and answer questions. Others will simply be on hand to talk about their “life” in the old days.

Among the various characters are Dr. Eliza Cook, who will be performed by Carson Valley resident Patsy Pumphrey. Pumphrey will give a short presentation on stage in the Mormon Station stockade, then stroll through the crowd and answer questions about Cook, who was a well-loved doctor in the early days in the Valley.

Snowshoe Thompson himself, Maj. Williams Ormsby, Eilley Bowers, Hank Monk, Abraham Lincoln, Gov. Isaac Roop and others will be portrayed.

John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson carried mail and supplies from Placerville, Calif., to Genoa from 1856 to 1886. The U.S. government never paid him for his services.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will offer a pioneer display and the John C. Fremont chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will take part.

Arts and crafts include wood carvings, iron art, handpainted china, Victorian crafts, wooden toys, sun bonnets, oil lamps, ceramics, quilts, country crafts, T-shirts, pottery, stone ware, preserves and birdhouses and bird feeders, among other crafts.

Entertainment, music and ethnic foods of Carson Valley – Indian tacos and Basque chorizo sandwiches on Saturday and a German Beer Garden with sausages, potato salad, sauerkraut and beer on Sunday – are also part of the festival.

Haywagon rides to the Genoa Cemetery where Snowshoe and early-day pioneers are buried and tours are planned.

Marlena Hellwinkel of the historical society will give opening remarks Saturday at 10 a.m. followed by a flag-raising ceremony by the Nevada Civil War Volunteers Honor Guard. Soloist Eileen Bianchi will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Norwegian national anthem.

On Sunday, Nina McCloud will give opening remarks, with the honor guard and Bianchi to follow. Ken Ault will give an invocation.

Most all of the presentations, skits, demonstrations and activities are free, and families are welcome.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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