Kentucky Archaeology Month Day 16 – Tomorrow Living Archaeology Weekend is Open to the Public!

Nicholas R. Laracunete, Kentucky Heritage Council


Living Archaeology Weekend ( is the oldest and largest public archaeology event in Kentucky. The third weekend in September, archaeologists, demonstrators, and school groups gather at the Gladie Cabin in Red River Gorge to see and experience how Native Americans and pioneers lived. Living Archaeology Weekend (LAW) is designed to be an educational experience that is linked with the material that students are learning in class. LAW supplements their understanding of Kentucky history and prehistory. Demonstrators also focus on issues of stewardship. On Friday, school groups from the surrounding counties attend to get hands on experience with the technologies used by the people they are studying in school. Typically we have over a thousand people (students and teachers) round the stations in just a few hours.

Student Using a Blowgun at the first LAW in 1989.

Student Using a Blowgun at the first LAW in 1989.

On Saturday, September 17, the event is completely open to the public (AND ITS FREE – but you can buy an awesome t-shirt). So come find us at the Gladie Center 3451 Sky Bridge Road Hwy 715, Stanton, KY 40380.

Preparing for Living Archaeology Weekend is a long detailed process. We have monthly meetings to update each other on progress for different tasks. Emails regarding everything from funding issues to reserving portable latrines are exchanged at all hours of the day. When nearly 3,000 people visit this event, issues like sanitation and parking are critical.

Each member of the steering committee brings a different skill set to the table. The combination of these skills is what makes this event work. To illustrate this, some members of the steering committee volunteered a paragraph (for Day of Archaeology 2013 and reprinted here) describing the things they do related to Living Archaeology Weekend on a typical day:

Darlene Applegate – I represent the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists (KyOPA) on the LAW Steering Committee. One of KyOPA’s main responsibilities is fundraising for the event, so I coordinate those efforts. I research funding opportunities, submit proposals, prepare invoices, maintain financial records, and prepare annual reports to our sponsors. As the web master for our new LAW web site, I design pages, upload content, and respond to public queries. I also assist with developing and designing content sheets, recipes, posters, lesson plans, scavenger hunts, and other educational resources for the event. In the month preceding the event I coordinate the volunteer force, prepare the event program, reserve hotels, and order merchandise. At the event I volunteer as a demonstrator at the native plants domestication booth.

Gwynn Henderson – I’m one of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey’s representatives on the LAW Steering Committee. Given that archaeology education is one of the Survey’s missions, it’s within this realm that I make most of my LAW contributions. My responsibility is to keep track of the educational materials we have developed and make sure the new materials we create or adapt or the workshops we offer are relevant to the LAW mission. I write some of the LAW educational content and lessons. Through my contacts with educators, I make sure our materials are aligned to the Kentucky Program of Studies for 5th Grade and work with a University of Kentucky colleague to assess and evaluate the educational effectiveness of LAW’s programming and what students are learning when they come to the event. Over the past couple of years, I have spearheaded the evaluation of demonstrators at the event and been responsible for the annual student essay contest judging.

These short steering committee bios only cover a portion of the work that goes into making this event successful for the last 28 years. Other committee members, Tressa Brown, Eric Schlarb, Christy Pritchard, and Wayna Adams work tirelessly through the year and the event only succeeds with their effort. When you come out this weekend find one of them and say hi!

If you want more information on LAW visit or find the Living Archaeology Weekend Facebook page.