Voyaging to the Past in Chippewa Falls

annual The Past Passed Here event brings 18th-century fur trade era to life

Nathan Hopp

Image: Isaac Walters
Image: Isaac Walters

No DeLorean time machine is required to witness The Past Passed Here, an 18th-century experience brought to life by the Chippewa County Historical Society in downtown Chippewa Falls. Coming May 9-12, the 16th annual event carries visitors to Wisconsin’s fur trade era, highlighting the sights and sounds of early Chippewa County history.

“If someone wanted to learn about the French fur trade and the lumbering era, this would be a good opportunity for them,” said Jim Schuh, one of the event’s organizers. “This is a nice opportunity for families to come together without the need for cellphones and computers. It is a low-tech experience.”

This annual event occurs in Allen Park, once an actual site where Native Americans and French voyageurs traded for fur pelts during the 1700s and 1800s. This four-day event also includes a variety of hands-on activities: During school hours from Wednesday to Friday – when the grounds are closed to the public – hundreds of local fourth-graders will immerse themselves in history with the help of log sawing, archery, tomahawk throwing, and canoe paddle racing. Costumed re-enactors will also demonstrate skills such as blacksmithing, cooking, loading antique muzzles on firearms, spinning, tannery, and more.

Image: Randy Bausert
Image: Randy Bausert

Allen Park will be the site of 30 camps where performers will bring the Chippewa Valley’s history to life for modern generations, shaping their present and entrenching their knowledge for the future. During non-school hours, the Past Passed Here is open to the public, and food, drinks, and souvenirs will be sold as you learn about the past.

The sounds of the past will be in the air as well, thanks to old-time musical entertainment: From 3-6pm Thursday, May 9, Peter Lea will perform banjo, guitar, and vocals; from 3-6pm Friday, May 10, Bruce Sorenson (fiddle), Larry Finesth (guitar), and Peggy Tabbut (ukulele) will entertain; and between 10am and 6pm Saturday, May 11, Isaac Walters will play the bagpipes.

The Past Passed Here • Thursday-Friday May 9-10, 3-6pm • Saturday, May 11, 9am-6pm • Sunday, May 12, 9am-4pm • Allen Park (Bridge Street and River Street), Chippewa Falls • $5 per person or $15 per family, ages 5 and under free • (715) 723-4399 • thepastpassedhere.org

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