Ray Alt Living History Day at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum

Flint Knapper Ray Alt

Flint Knapper Ray Alt

Livingston: Ray Alt Living History Day at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum is Saturday, June 1, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Throughout the day, artisans demonstrate primitive arts: flint knapping, blacksmithing, painting, Dutch-oven cooking and more on the museum grounds. Teachers give lessons in the one-room schoolhouse. Native American traditional games are offered at various stations on the lawn. All are welcome to attend this free event, which includes museum admission. Burgers and hot dog plates are available for purchase.

This year (and subsequent years) the museum commemorates Ray Alt, master flint knapper, who organized and began the first “Knap-In” in 2013. (An extensive museum exhibit also showcases Alt’s work.) The annual event expanded to become Living History Day. Alt passed away last June. From 10AM to 2PM, renowned Gardiner area sculptor George Bumann demonstrates the art of flint knapping as well as primitive fire-starting techniques using a bow drill.

Blacksmiths Jem Blueher, Andy Olds, Martin Hildreth, and others demonstrate and interpret the traditional art of blacksmithing using the original forge in the museum’s Vink Blacksmith Shop. Peter “Jack” Vink, Jr. used this shop for refitting wagon wheels, welding, and blacksmithing from 1903 until his death in 1949.

Blacksmiths Jem Blueher and Andy Olds in the Vink Blacksmith Shop

Blacksmiths Jem Blueher and Andy Olds in the Vink Blacksmith Shop

Michael Keator, a longtime Dutch-oven cook who cooked for backcountry wilderness pack trips for several years, demonstrates the art of cooking a full meal. His menu changes every year; delectable samples are available in the afternoon; donations are welcome!  

Artist Shirl Ireland demonstrates painting from 2PM to 5PM and will facilitate a sketching station for people who’d like to participate. Ireland has painted professionally for more than twenty years and owns the Elk River Art Studio and Lodge in Gardiner with her husband John Stacy.

Jack Reynolds has worked for more than thirty years in primitive arts. He travels from Helena and will make his miniature willow sculptures on the lawn during the day.

Traditional Native American game instruction is led by Trudy Patton, a Yellowstone National Park Education Ranger with the curriculum-based, residential Expedition Yellowstone program, STEAM teacher workshops, and school field trip programs. Patton was certified in International Traditional Games Society Level 1 training at Mammoth, Wyoming in 2018.

East Side School teacher Kim Fink; retired East Side School librarian, Merrilee Bryan; and retired teacher Shannon Burke teach lessons in the One-Room Schoolhouse, helping visitors glimpse what learning was like in the good old days.

In addition, there are numerous family activities in the museum and participants are encouraged to purchase raffle tickets for themed baskets to raise money for the museum. Donations for the museum to support the event are welcome and appreciated.

Visitors can preview new exhibits this year (some are in the process of installation): Agriculture of Park County, Vignettes of History: Cultural Landscapes of Park County, and Ice Age Mammoth, featuring a life-size painting by Kristen Walker. The art exhibit will invite people to try and identify artwork locations from around the county.

For more information, please contact Paul Shea or Karen Reinhart, Yellowstone Gateway Museum, 222-4184. Find us on Facebook where we’ll post event updates.