CARROLLTON, Ky. (October 2003) Spinning can have
many different definitions. For instance, storytellers can spin a
tall tale and artists often spin a potters wheel. But for Rita
Westrick, the word itself denotes a lost art heritage.
Westrick became interested in spinning through her daughters
involvement with 4-H. She has continued to spin wool into yarn over
the years in an effort to teach others about this forgotten skill.
Westrick at the Masterson House.
Westrick is part of Heritage Saturdays, a new event held on the grounds
of the Masterson House on select Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
It was created to provide local residents in Carrollton and tourists
alike the opportunity to have fun with history through interaction
with costumed living history re-enactors.
Visitors are offered a glimpse of what everyday life for our forefathers
was like, when nearly every necessity was made by hand.
Living history displays depict heritage skills practiced during the
18th and 19th centuries. Skills demonstrated include spinning, basket
making, quilting, cane and rush chair weaving, butter churning, soap
making, dulcimer music and Amish woven rugs.
Members of the Pioneer Power Club, which preserves antique tractors,
display their vintage iron horses. River Valley Winery sets up in
the cellar of the home with their local wines, and James Stewart,
Family and Friends offers their unique blend of bluegrass and gospel
music as a backdrop to the other ongoing activities. Children are
invited to join in games played during these time periods.
Robin Caldwell, executive director of the Carrollton-Carroll County
Tourism and Convention Commission, said she designed this event to
create an interesting weekend package for prospective tourists.
Scheduled for the evenings of the same days are a Music in the Park
performance at the Butler Turpin Historic Home inside Gen. Butler
State Resort Park. This makes for a well-rounded weekend of
events to complement the other local attractions, said Caldwell.
Westrick, like all of the other interpreters, volunteers her time
and talent to show onlookers how hard people worked back then.
Things are so easy on us now. To actually see someone spinning
or assembling a basket from scratch puts things into perspective,
Her curiosity with spinning began when she attended a Kentucky-hosted
4-H workshop with her daughter, who was interested in raising a lamb
for 4-H. Westrick said she knew this would be a forever project
and decided to learn how to spin wool.
Westrick has two sheep, a Romney and a Dorset, whose wool she uses
for her demonstrations. She said the Romney is a wool-bred sheep and
the Dorset was bought as a companion for it. As to the sheeps
yarn value, You can get 10 sweaters from one shearing,
Westrick has employed several different methods for dying her yarn.
She has dyed it naturally with walnuts and flowering plants such as
goldenrod, for muted shades of yarn. She has used standard yarn dye
colors, and even Kool-aid for a school demonstration, which produced
She said that a camaraderie has developed between her and the other
interpreters as they gather to demonstrate these heritage skills.
They all possess the same desire to teach others about the past.
Since the Sept. 11 tragedy, many people have had the desire
to learn more and to teach their children about their heritage. They
want to watch, feel and hear it-not just read about it. Cultural-heritage
tourism is at a wonderful high, said Caldwell.
Heritage Saturdays are a free event sponsored by the Port William
Historical Society, which seeks to share the Masterson Homes
history with others. As a fundraising effort, the society offers baked
goods and grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for sale.
Wayne Young, president of the historical society, hopes this event
will raise money for the general upkeep of the Masterson House. He
said the club has received grants from the tourism department, but
additional money is needed for roofing repairs and resulting damage
from water seeping into the home.
Caldwell, who is secretary of the club, said members eventually hope
to build a split rail, crisscross fence along the perimeter of the
property. Another future goal is the erection of two driveway posts
made from native fieldstone. Due to the purchase price of materials,
the club may have to hold off on these plans because of structural
repairs needed to the home.
Young said this event is one that brings with it a cultural awareness
to the area. He is hoping it will draw a younger crowd that will become
interested in the club, since many members are now older.
Richard Masterson and his wife, Sarah Shore, built the Masterson House
in the early 1790s along the Ohio River. In addition to being an active
member of the community, Masterson was county clerk, a surveyor and
a dedicated Methodist who brought this religion to the area and held
services in his home until 1795.
For more information, call the tourism office at 1-800-325-4290
or visit the website: www.carrolltontourism.com.