Rainier teacher, students hosting event, which will benefit food pantry

by: PHOTO COURTESY ANDY DEMKO - Rainier Junior/Senior High School student David Placido, whom History Club advisor Andy Demko said will talk about agriculture in 1853 at this year's Rainier Revisited.For the fifth year in a row, students from the Rainier Junior/Senior High School History Club are hosting a history reenactment to portray the Columbia County of yesteryear on Saturday, April 12.

Rainier Revisited will be held at the Beaver Homes Grange, located at 31105 Beaver Homes Road in Goble.

History Club advisor and Rainier social studies teacher Andy Demko said the event will “turn the clock back to 1853 and see what life was like in Rainier and Columbia County and the Pacific Northwest.”

The reenactment will depict multiple scenes as they might have appeared in 1853, including a military camp, fur trapping and an Old West recreation of Rainier itself, Demko said. Throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a “living history story line” will play out.

“It’s like you’re walking in a live play, but it’s going from 10 to 4,” said Demko.

Historical artifacts from the time period will also be on display at the grange, he said, such as items from the Oregon Trail and Native American effects.

Perhaps the centerpiece of the reenactment is the planned appearance of history storytellers from Tacoma, Wash.

Karen Haas and her husband Pat will perform as French Canadian couriers with the Hudson’s Bay Co., which was a powerful and influential outfit in the Pacific Northwest of the era. She said Monday that her segment of the reenactment will include “hands-on” materials, like beaver pelts and musical instruments, and the characters will explain what life was like for people like them in the 1850s.

“It’s great fun just to bring a bit of the past to life that a lot of people are not aware of,” Haas said.

Haas said she met Demko when she was starting out as a living history performer at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma.

“I think the world of him,” Haas said. “He really brings history to life for his kids.”

Demko has been running the Rainier Revisited reenactment for the past five years. Before that, he said, he was involved in another educational history reenactment at the Prairie City School in eastern Oregon.

“It’s a great way for students to take what they’ve been learning in school ... and go out and participate in a creative way,” said Demko. He said some Rainier students have participated in the event “every year.”

Rainier Revisited will be held outside, rain or shine. In case of wet weather, Demko said, tarps and tents will be used for shelter.

The price of admission is a donation — which can be as small as just one can of food — to H.O.P.E. of Rainier, a local food pantry.

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