Heritage Days will showcase county history, people
Disney dolls, seasonal dolls, dolls with elaborate and intricate gowns, paper dolls and doll houses complete with miniature furniture and fixtures … a circus tent, miniature performers and animals that children might use as toys, all this is on hand to delight visitors to Heritage Park during Heritage Days.
And those are just the featured items – there is something for everyone, according to Anton Anday, Heritage Park coordinator.
Heritage Days will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 18, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at the park, 2700 Madison Ave., Plover.
Though the feature display for the second consecutive year is the collection of dolls and a special doll tea party at which visitors can reserve a spot, Heritage Days’ two-day event showcases many features of Heritage Park. Visitors can tour each of the nine buildings, and all will have a host to whom questions may be asked about the history of the building, its former inhabitants and the artifacts contained therein.
One of the more popular buildings, the Engford House, often fondly referred to as the Circus House, will once again be hosted by Frank and Ruthie Engford Clark, both of whom were aerial circus performers and resided in the building itself.
“I’m so grateful for Heritage Park and the family home being there,” Ruthie Engford Clark said from her home in Florida Tuesday. “We time our summers around Heritage Days so we can spend our time there. It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the area to learn more about the area.
“You get enthused when you talk to these people because they are so interested in the history of the area,” she said. “I hope people come out and enjoy the day and perhaps get swept away with us.”
The Engford family may have the longest tradition of circus performing in Wisconsin. Several were still active in 2000. Members of this family have contributed the bulk of the Society’s collection of circus items, including the Engford family homestead.
The Engford family started with Robert and Amanda and began performing in approximately 1904. While members of the family had their own circuses, they performed with other circuses and all across the country.
Ruthie Engford Clark was still performing in 2000. She said every year she attends Heritage Park it amazes her how much people learn and how surprised they are to find this collection of historic buildings (dating back to 1850) and the stories that accompany them.
“People have lived there maybe 20 years and didn’t know this was in their backyard,” she said. “It’s interesting to be part of this enlightenment … it makes for us a very interesting day. I just love it and look forward to it.
“The post office, my family home, the Franklin House was down a ways, these are all places I can remember from my childhood,” she said. “Heritage Park is a little gem there and whatever we can do to help people discover it is a great satisfaction. We’re interested in preserving all of the history of Portage County.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see a real live past,” she said.
Heritage Park is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.