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Consortium connects Rocky Mountain heritage, arts and tourism

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 16 2013 2:00 p.m. MST

Antique toy candy molds belonging to Chris and Fred Graham were on display at the recent "Living History Soiree" at the Fort Douglas Military Museum.

Rosemarie Howard, Dramatic Dimensions, LLC

Artists, dancers, musicians, storytellers, milliners, candy makers and representatives of Utah state agencies gathered Friday, Jan. 25, at a “Living History Soirée.” Their individual and collective passion for sharing Utah history in a variety of ways brought the group together with an eye to reviving the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium.

The event, hosted at the Fort Douglas Military Museum in Salt Lake City, attracted artists and artisans from around the state and featured a Dutch oven meal, artisan displays and presentations by several artists. Participants were encouraged to wear period dress, and most did.

Artisans offered demonstrations of their wares before the event began. Among the displays were a selection of hats made by milliner Mary Ann Barnard and heritage toy candy molds, along with samples made by Chris and Fred Graham.

Actor James Arrington presented a mini-workshop on how he developed the script and character for “J. Golden Kimball,” during which he shared some humorous Golden Kimball stories.

An ensemble including Sam Payne and Clive Romney told and sang the story of the “Panguitch Quilt Walk.” Kevin and Brian Henson demonstrated an online storytelling technology they call “Map’n Tour,” using the Panquitch quilt story.

Most of those attending expressed satisfaction for the event and the resurrected consortium.

“This has been the most wonderful and fun experience, getting to meet these people who bring history to life,” said Connie Bauer, a member of the organizing group for the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium.

Storyteller Wendy Gourley said she attended the event to learn more about pioneer heritage arts. “I knew it would be good, because Clive is excellent at everything he does,” Gourley said, “but I was absolutely blown away by his ability to meld story and music.”

“This is a beautiful gathering of people from all areas of Utah to bring together the use of story and song and art and lectures,” said Marina Spence, of the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute. “We’re grateful as an institute to be a small part of this beautiful group.”

“I think the consortium formalizes an affinity that historical interpreters naturally have for each other,” said musician and storyteller Sam Payne. “This organization not only gives them a home where they can enjoy the company of like-minded folks, but also unites them under a vision that could spread the movement beyond its current constituency.”

In 2008, David Sidwell formed the Rocky Mountain Living History Consortium. Then program director of the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Sidwell said he wanted to train volunteers to more effectively create an authentic living history experience for center visitors.

He reached out to organizations with similar needs, among them This is The Place Heritage Park and the National Oregon/California Trail Museum in Montpelier, Idaho.

“We were all particularly interested in the abilities of our living history presenters to give the gift of themselves through their presentations,” Sidwell said, “so our first conference had a lot of storytelling and hosting techniques emphasized.”

Around the same time, Clive Romney began his journey as a self-defined “passionate purveyor of pioneer arts. ... I had a very personal experience that turned my heart to my ancestors and telling their stories,” Romney said.

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