The Maine Wildlife Park will step back in time with the Ancient Ones of Maine on Saturday. The 200-year-old living history camp re-enactment is not simply to be observed; visitors will be able to explore the camp and participate in demonstrations for a real hands-on history experience.

“The Ancient Ones of Maine is public-friendly. Everyone is welcome to come into our camp and participate in our demos,” said Dave Bryant, the Ancient Ones of Maine’s booshway (that means he is the guy in charge of this rendezvous at the park).

“They re-create what life would look like in the early 1800s. It’s like a time capsule with demonstrations,” said Lisa Kane, natural science educator of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “These guys are incredibly historically accurate. It is a step back in time that we don’t typically get to see.”

The Ancient Ones of Maine will assume historical personas at the park and interact with visitors in character.

One of the personas will include a “mountain man” who will set up a teepee. The public will be allowed to go inside the structure.

Bryant’s persona is a “Northeastern long hunter.” His shelter will be a simple piece of canvas that was often carried by travelers in the 1700s and early 1800s.

“They will be going about setting up their camp and answering questions from the public while they go about their business,” Kane said.

Both Bryant and Kane agree that the demonstrations the Ancient Ones will be doing are not to be missed.

“I’ll be doing tomahawk demonstrations all day. I’m really good at it,” said Bryant, who wasn’t shy about explaining how well he handles a tomahawk. “It’s also something that we let the public try if they want.”

Other demonstrations happening throughout the day will include fire starting, cooking, trading, flint knapping, weaving and more. There will also be flintlock muskets to view, but they will not be fired in the park.

“The big deal with us versus other re-enactors is that we welcome visitors to come into our camp. You’re allowed in our teepee. You can try any of the demonstrations you want. It’s that type of thing,” Bryant said about his group’s dedication to a hands-on living history experience for all.

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we’re insured,” he explained when asked about letting the public try fire starting and tomahawk throwing.

Authenticity is important to the Ancient Ones, but there are a few minor exceptions.

“We try to be as authentic as we can but we know that eyeglasses are a little out of place,” Bryant said. “But some of us can’t see.”

“When they set up camp, they live it,” Kane said. “They really are living like it was 200 years ago.”

When visitors are ready, they can step out of history and into today’s natural world. The park’s usual exhibits of more than 30 species of native wildlife can be enjoyed along with the nature trails and fish hatchery.

Bring along your modern-day cellphone because the park’s self-guided audio tour program is a wonderful educational experience for visitors. According to Kane, 7,000 calls were made to the audio tour phone number (228-1700) last year. The audio tour has been updated for this season to include new animals, and the park now offers a text version of the tour at www.mainewildlifepark.com. 

Staff Writer Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:

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