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Archaeology Day on Saturday

Washington State Park contains the largest group of petroglyphs yet discovered in Missouri. Visitors are expected to flock to the park for Archaeology Day on Saturday.

Atlatl throwing, Native American games and crafts and a petroglyph tour are just a few of the attractions visitors can expect on Saturday at Washington State Park’s annual Archaeology Day event, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park’s shelter #1 CCC Ridge.

Sharon Hultberg, the park’s natural resource manager, said September is Archaeology Month. The park has hosted the event ever since they were approached in 2015 by the Three Rivers Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society, who partners with the park on the event.

Eric Smith, president of the Three Rivers Chapter, said Archaeology Day is about having fun and building awareness.

“The Archaeology Day events provide a great opportunity to teach visitors about archaeology and the importance of preserving archaeological sites such as Washington State Park's petroglyphs,” he said.

The park’s Petroglyph Site features rock carvings from the Mississippian era, the largest group of petroglyphs yet discovered in Missouri. Because of the number and quality of the carvings, these sites were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

In addition to a petroglyph tour, World Bird Sanctuary, a first-time featured guest at Archaeology Day, will present a program on raptors and birds of prey.

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For those who like hands-on activities, Archaeology Day will have a variety of Native American games and crafts for kids. Demonstrations like flint-knapping and atlatl-throwing will take place throughout the day, and Friends of Washington State Parks will sell concessions.

“We try to vary the activities offered from year to year at Archaeology Day events to keep them fresh and interesting and fun,” Smith said. “One staple activity that I really enjoy is teaching how to throw the atlatl and giving attendees an opportunity to try it for themselves. “

When asked what the most anticipated part of the day was for him, Smith said a lot of effort goes into providing the public with Archaeology Day events, “but it makes it all worth it when you hear a young attendee say ‘This is the funnest day ever!’"

The program for the day includes:

  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: World Bird Sanctuary hosts Birds of Prey Display.
  • 1 p.m.: World Bird Sanctuary hosts Raptor Basics.
  • 2 p.m.: Interpretive staff lead the petroglyph tour.

Washington State Park is located 10 miles south of De Soto, on Highway 21. For more information, go to www.mostateparks.com, follow the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/washingtonstatepark, or call the park office at 636-586-5768.

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Macey Adams is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at madams@dailyjournalonline.com.

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