Preparing for Living Archaeology Weekend

Living Archaeology Weekend is the oldest and largest public archaeology event in Kentucky. One weekend in the fall, archaeologists, demonstrators, and school groups gather at the Gladie Cabin in Red River Gorge to see and experience how Native Americans and pioneers lived. Living Archaeology Weekend (LAW) is designed to be an educational experience that is linked with the material that students are learning in class. LAW supplements their understanding of Kentucky history and prehistory. Demonstrators also focus on issues of stewardship.

This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. So, in addition to the logistics that need to be taken care of every year, we are also planning some special activities that honor those that have made this event a success since 1989. Planning is divided among a steering committee composed of representatives from a several different agencies across Kentucky.

Student using a Blow Gun at the first LAW - 1989.

Student using a Blow Gun at the first LAW – 1989.

So what did the steering committee do during the Day of Archaeology? Preparing for Living Archaeology Weekend is a long detailed process. We have monthly meetings to update each other on progress for different tasks. Emails regarding everything from funding issues to reserving portable latrines are exchanged at all hours of the day. When nearly 3,000 people visit this event, issues like sanitation and parking are critical.

Each member of the steering committee brings a different skill set to the table. The combination of these skills is what makes this event work. To illustrate this, some members of the steering committee volunteered a paragraph describing the things they do related to Living Archaeology Weekend on a typical day.

Mark A. Engler – As Director for the Gladie Cultural and Environmental Learning Center, my focus is to provide logistical planning and coordination for LAW events at the Learning Center, which is located in the Red River Gorge on the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Center’s goal  is to create a quality setting for  LAW attendees including school children, presenters and the general public. I provide for event staffing, presenter booths and equipment as well as various coordination tasks, such as event signage, communication and logistical support.

Darlene Applegate – I represent the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists (KyOPA) on the LAW Steering Committee. One of KyOPA’s main responsibilities is fundraising for the event, so I coordinate those efforts. I research funding opportunities, submit proposals, prepare invoices, maintain financial records, and prepare annual reports to our sponsors. As the web master for our new LAW web site, I design pages, upload content, and respond to public queries. I also assist with developing and designing content sheets, recipes, posters, lesson plans, scavenger hunts, and other educational resources for the event. In the month preceding the event I coordinate the volunteer force, prepare the event program, reserve hotels, and order merchandise. At the event I volunteer as a demonstrator at the native plants domestication booth.

Gwynn Henderson – I’m one of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey’s representatives on the LAW Steering Committee.  Given that archaeology education is one of the Survey’s missions, it’s within this realm that I make most of my LAW contributions.  My responsibility is to keep track of the educational materials we have developed and make sure the new materials we create or adapt or the workshops we offer are relevant to the LAW mission.  I write some of the LAW educational content and lessons. Through my contacts with educators, I make sure our materials are aligned to the Kentucky Program of Studies for 5th Grade and work with a University of Kentucky colleague to assess and evaluate the educational effectiveness of LAW’s programming and what students are learning when they come to the event. Over the past couple of years, I have spearheaded the evaluation of demonstrators at the event and been responsible for the annual student essay contest judging.

Nicolas Laracuente – I am one of the Kentucky Heritage Council’s representatives on the LAW Steering Committee. On my most active day as LAW ‘social media guru’ I will check the messages that we received via Facebook, twitter and email. Then I will get on Buffer an schedule our social media posts for the week. This year is the 25th anniversary of law so we are tapping into the law archives to remind people of all of the great things that have been accomplished and how far we have come. Social media is a small part of LAW. It wouldn’t even be possible without the work done by the rest of the committee.

These short steering committee bios only cover a portion of the work that goes into making this event successful for the last 25 years. If you want more information on LAW 2013 follow us on Twitter or check out our Facebook page.