Strong opening day for Rock Ledge season
The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site reported a strong opening day June 4, with more than 500 paid admissions.
The event highlighted a herding demonstration by trained sheepdogs and the annual shearing of the sheep's coats. But what was especially encouraging, according to interviews with ranch manager Andy Morris and volunteer Living History Association (LHA) President Ron Wright, were the favorable responses to the ranch's revamped General Store as well as to the new (to Rock Ledge) Greenberg Center American Indian exhibit, titled “When the Land Was Sacred.”
The store “made about double what it normally would have made, and quite a few came through the exhibit,” Wright said.
And, if anyone was displeased by the $2 increase in admission fees this year, they didn't say so. “It didn't seem to bother them one bit,” he said.
The city-owned, 1880s-style working ranch off Gateway Road at 30th Street will continue to be open on a Wednesday-to-Saturday schedule throughout the summer, and will also offer a few special events.
The upgrades to the store took “an incredible amount of work all winter long,” Wright said. New signage, helping people find the store (and other locations) more easily, was provided at minimal cost by a local fine carpenter who supports the ranch. Inside the store, the main changes involved the inventory. In the past, people might have found knick-knacks mixed with historic wares; now the shelves are heavily stocked with goods made by ranch staff, LHA volunteers and area artists; and any imported items at least come from somewhere in the United States.
“There's no more stuff made in China,” Morris commented. “I'm just thrilled. The store will almost be like another place at the ranch to visit.”
In seeking local talent for the store, ranch leaders have tried to be discerning. Works have to be juried in. The creations include American Indian bead work, handmade dolls, embroidered linen, fine blacksmith work, and books and CDs from area writers and musicians.
Rock Ledge's souvenir T-shirts are even made near by. Wright himself creates them on equipment at his house in Pleasant Valley, noting for the record that all profits go to the ranch.
The Greenberg exhibit, previously shown at East Library and Imagination Celebration, will be on display in the Rock Ledge Carriage House through December. It presents graphically designed, vertical banners with translations of Indian songs and prayers. Augmenting the exhibit are numerous American Indian artifacts that are part of the ranch's collection, including war clubs, hatchets, spears, arrows, gourds and blankets.
The Greenbergs, who were on hand for the ranch's opening day, said they hope people seeing the exhibit will gain a deeper understanding of the culture of American Indian tribes, which was largely muted after the United States conquered them in the 1800s.
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