FOR 39 YEARS the reenactors encampment has been an attraction at the Curwood Festival. The dedicated reenactors portray a mix of history from the French Fur Traders through the Civil War, with multiple demonstrations representing life from the 1700s and 1800s. This year’s encampment was nestled along the Shiawassee River, just west of Curwood Castle, and included a blacksmith, surveyors, a doctor, area natives, gunsmiths, and more.
Chris Shiakas (standing) and Len Graves are two participants in this annual event who are determined to enrich Curwood visitors with lessons in local history and culture. Both gentlemen are artisans in gunsmithing. Each of the carefully planned, historically accurate weapons they create, take anywhere from 80 to 100 hours to produce. Intricate detail is etched in wood, brass, and silver; and even the interior of the guns are crafted along historic guidelines as much as possible.
Along with muskets and rifles, the gunsmiths also sold lead balls, powder, powder horns, flasks, flints, picks, knives, and even lubricant rendered from bear oil.
Shiakas is an organizer for the encampment.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)