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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

ERCA hosts Deck the Holidays Workshop

by Kyle Reid

Some of Essex County’s residents rang in the holiday season with a hands-on wreath making workshop, which volunteers and staff of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) hosted last Saturday afternoon at the John R. Park Homestead.

The ‘Deck the Holidays Workshop’ gave some crafty individuals an interactive lesson on how to create their own handmade wreath, using natural materials from the forest and farm. Some wreathmakers used the workshop to entertain the whole family; for others, the off-the-shores scenery of Lake Erie offered a perfect date day.

Kris Ives, Curator and Education Coordinator at the John R. Park Homestead, said the wreath-making workshop was born as a way to make good use of leftover trimmings from ERCA conservation areas that are used to decorate the homestead in the fall.

“It’s a great way to have an ‘edutainment’ experience for the public,” Ives said.  

The workshop was surely entertaining and informative for all who attended. Smiles were plenty among guests who learned traditional methods for crafting the popular Christmas decorations. While it would be easiest to simply buy a fake wreath at a local department store, Ives said crafting the wreaths gives a more authentic, traditional holiday experience.

“I think right now, we’re in a ‘maker’s time,’ Ives said. “If you want to go to the department store that’s cool, but it’s a little more special if you can go and learn how to do it.”

For many, crafting the handmade wreaths will be a special point of pride and a talking point at their holiday parties. Ives noted many pioneers would have created their own wreaths, and the volunteers and staff at the John R. Park homestead are hoping to connect people to that time and spirit.

“There’s that element of sharing knowledge that the homestead is very interested in,” Ives said. “We think it’s really important to take that knowledge and skills that people have and share that.”

The wreath-making workshop was one of many traditional workshops ERCA has hosted through the John R. Park homestead. Others events include workshops in blacksmithing, textile and basket weaving, wool felting, and wood carving.

Funds raised support ERCA’s many environmental education programs for local youths. 

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