May 30th, 2024

Spooktober offers sweet scares and history


By Dale Woodard on November 3, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - William Baliko, a blacksmith and a fine arts student at the University of Lethbridge, gives a demonstration of some of his tricks of the trade to a group of visitors at Spooktober this past weekend at Fort Whoop.

Get a history lesson. Get some candy. Get scared.
A trip to Fort Whoop Up offered plenty of all of those three things Saturday.
Leading up to Halloween on Sunday, Spooktober allowed Fort Whoop Up attendants to celebrate the scary day with a little bit of learning while allowing them to meet the needs of their sweet tooth.
“You come to Spooktober and you get a lot of candy,” said Carolyn Ben, program assistant at Galt Museum and Archives. “You get to see a blacksmith and do crafts, you get to go on a wagon ride and you get to see some scary rooms and you get a hot chocolate.”
The Galt Museum and Archives has been hosting Halloween activities for years, said Ben.
With the pandemic, Fort Whoop Up’s outdoor portion allowed organizers to bring in some groups.
“We’ve been doing it at the Fort on and off, but definitely during COVID because it is a semi-outdoor sight,” said Ben. “It’s also a lot easier to split up the groups. So you just have 10 people. We’re following the provincial vaccine mandate, so everyone is vaccinated and wearing masks.”
On Saturday, groups were able to take a horse and wagon ride and get a one-on-one lesson on the craft of blacksmithing from William Baliko, a fine arts student at the University of Lethbridge who not only fashioned a few blades for the curious onlookers, but also made baby horseshoes for tourists to take home.
Kids were also able to visit the scary room and top up their bags with more Halloween candy.
“People love it. We’ve had people from last year who said the only thing their kids asked to do was this,” said Ben. “They’re enjoying it quite a bit. We have a lot of people who have just never been to the Fort. So it’s a real surprise when they come through the doors and see this site here.”
Among the fun, scares, blacksmith tips and candy was an educational component as well.
“That’s our mission. Fort Whoop Up is really unique to southern Alberta,” said Ben. “It has kind of shaped the whole landscape. So you get a little bit of that before you get the scary stuff. It’s very important, knowing where we came from and Fort Whoop Up had a huge impact on the Blackfoot. It was the beginning of our settler/Blackfoot relations. It wasn’t always a great start and it’s really important to learn that.”
On Saturday, the trick or treaters had to apply a little bit of what they learned on the tour in order to earn more knick knacks.
“When they go and get candy at the first station, they go to the trade room and the head trader makes them bargain a little bit to get their candy,” said Ben. “They learn a bit about how to barter and what it would be like back then.”

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