An argument escalated before gunshots rang out Sunday afternoon at the Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Long Grove.
The only fingers lifted, of course, were those joined together in applause. The Wapsi Wranglers re-enactment was all part of the annual Labor Day Weekend Village Fall Festival. The event, which continues today, features old-time sounds, activities, a quilt display in Old St. Ann’s Church and other sights.
“The general store is open, and we have a candy store with gifts,” said Site Coordinator Deb Leistikow, who was pleased with the weather and the attendance. "What I really like is the interaction of the kids with exhibits and crafts. They don’t have their phone with them,” she said. “This is a slower form of entertainment — easy-going.”
Music that wafted across the village included lots of easy-listening, such as a rhumba version of “See You In September” and “(Roll Out Those) Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” performed by John and Kay Retzl with vocals, accordion and keyboards.
Wayne and Nancy Dengler, of Eldridge, danced along. “(The Retzls) are friends of ours,” Nancy Dengler said. “They also play in nursing homes, and we dance for people. It’s been pretty rewarding.”
“People love the music, but when you watch people dancing, that’s something else,” Wayne Dengler said.
Just across the way, John Mallo, of Bellevue, Iowa, talked to visitors who came to see his authentic cowboy camp. Sunday was the first time he had set up the camp at the village, he said, although he previously had visited the site.
Mallo, known as “Little John,” is a longtime re-enactor who was part of a group in California’s Apple Valley area. The group “rented ourselves out” to filmmakers, he said. “The movie guys always called us because we showed up with the real stuff,” he said. His gear includes a handmade “fat lamp,” which was used before the oil lamp and after candles, as well as a tent, various brands, chaps, spurs and a saddle made in 1881, he said. Mallo brought the saddle from a man whose great-grandfather had purchased it new.
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Greeting visitors was Cattle Kate, his dog that’s named after a woman who was hanged in 1889 for cattle rustling in Wyoming.
Not far from the cowboy camp, a group of children stood in line to make their own ropes the old-fashioned way with a hand-crank. Troy and Julie Thornburg, known as “The Rope Makers,” encouraged each young rope-maker as the crank turned the fibers. Trevor Watson, 4, of Davenport, gave it his all.
“Keep goin’, Trevor! Use both hands!” shouted his grandfather, Eric Droessler, of Davenport. Trevor, triumphant, proudly held the rope he had just made.
The village, which was a settlement and stage-coach stop in the 1860s, includes more than a dozen historic building and a restored Chicago, Burlington and Quincy caboose.