This weekend will be a break from the digital world that consumes many families during the week. The James Foundation will be hosting Old Iron Works Days at the Maramec Spring Park this Saturday and Sunday, which features 1800's Ozark skills and crafts, music and dancing.

This weekend will be a break from the digital world that consumes many families during the week. The James Foundation will be hosting Old Iron Works Days at the Maramec Spring Park this Saturday and Sunday, which features 1800’s Ozark skills and crafts, music and dancing.
Mark Benton, regional manager of the James Foundation, says there is definitely a continued interest for young and old alike and particularly, for those that want to stroll down memory lane. “The last few years, we’ve run around 10,000 people for the weekend.”
He alludes to a time in the mid-1800’s, when self reliance was a necessity for survival. Benton says one of the more popular demonstrations at the event are the blacksmiths. “There will be two blacksmiths this year. Crosscut sawing is another good hands-on demonstration and people will get a chance to use the saws and see what it was really like to cut firewood back in the day.”
Benton rattles off a litany of other skills such as spinning and dyeing, basketweaving, and rope making. “Kids will get a chance to see how rope was made and they can actually make their own, so they can take home a little souvenir from the event,” he adds.
“We also have two or three different woodworking displays—how joinery was done and how cabinets were made.” Benton continues, “There will be tinsmithing—and a new one this year—a woman is coming over to show how mohair cinches were made and to demonstrate how they were used with animals in agriculture.”
According to Benton, there will also be 35 exhibits of items such as antique tools, apple head dolls, and a Civil War display. “The same people keep coming back year after year, so their is a demand for what they are sharing,” he says. Benton says the crafters that present their skills during Old Iron Works Days are coming by invitation only from all over the state of Missouri.  
Food vendors will be on hand, so visitors can munch on a hotdog while watching cloggers dancing and listening to the Back Porch Players and the Jacob Austin Band. This entertainment starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will end at 5:00 p.m. each day.
Also, while the event is going on at the park, there will be other activities to enjoy. “We still have the camping, trout fishing, picnicking, basketball and tennis. “Basketball and tennis are a little hard to do when we have 10,000 people around,” he says.
To elaborate on the facilities, there are 58 electric and non-electric campsites adjacent to the Meramec River. The Missouri Dept. of Conservation stocks rainbow and brown trout in six tenths of a mile of fishing stream, daily. As for the Maramec Spring itself, it’s the fifth largest spring in the state.
To add another dimension to an already action-packed weekend, many shops in downtown St. James will be open on Saturday. Yard sales will also spring up like mushrooms after a spring shower. “In the past, I’ve counted around 35 yard sales between I-44 and the park,” says Benton. “Folks get a chance to whet their appetite, when it comes to that type of shopping. I think this is really neat, because it shows the community is getting involved in it too.”
The event is $15 per car load or free with a Maramec Spring Park Annual Parking Pass. Entry to the Maramec Museum and Ozark Agriculture Museum is free. For more information, call 573-265-7124.