HUNTINGTON - The Mary Ingles Trail Associates (MITA) will present a historical encampment and live historical re-enactment based on research of the life of Mary Draper Ingles at Beech Fork State Park on Friday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 15.
Friday activities are offered for school groups, and Saturday and Sunday encampment activities and presentations are open to the public without charge.
This year marks the the 30th annual MITA event and the 264th anniversary of Ingles' odyssey in 1755, as she was captured by and escaped from Shawnee Indians.
According to information on the West Virginia State Parks website, in 1755, during the French and Indian War, Ingles was a 23-year-old frontier wife living with her extended family at Drapers Meadow, near present-day Blacksburg, Virginia, when a Shawnee war party attacked the settlement. The pioneer woman's mother was among those killed in the raid, while Ingles, her two sons and a sister-in-law were among the settlers captured.
Ingles was separated from her boys and taken to a Shawnee settlement near the site of present-day Portsmouth, Ohio, and then on to Big Bone Lick in north-central Kentucky.
There, she and a captive from another settlement managed to escape and follow the Ohio, Kanawha and New rivers back to Drapers Meadow in a 40-day, 500-mile trek.
Scott Fairchild, event manager - or booshway - said everything planned for the weekend celebration eventually circles back around to the time period when Ingles lived and set out on her journey.
"We run the event for three days, and it's all centered on her life skills and her story of desire to get back to her family. There will be several different demonstrations throughout the day of skills she would have needed to use throughout her life," said Fairchild.
Some of those demonstrations include fire starting, fabric dyeing and using medicinal plants, among others. Fairchild said that often even individuals running those demonstrations will pick up a new skill or two before the weekend is through.
"It's a chance for everyone to learn, even those of us involved directly with the event," he said.
David Adkins plays the Native American flute and is fairly new to the annual celebration, but plans on using that skill and others this weekend to educate kids on how that instrument was made at the time as well as letting the kids play music with him on a drum.
"We'll have different demonstrators doing a whole bunch of different things, so it's really a good chance to educate them on the history of that time period," said Adkins. "We're there to interact and have a good time with whoever shows up."
While Friday is set aside for students to come enjoy the event, it's open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.