HAMMOND — Carol Arnold brought her 9-year-old twins, Megan and Aubree Arnold, to the Tangipahoa Convention and Visitors Bureau on Thursday for a cultural lesson.
“I feel like it’s a good learning experience because they both love going to museums,” the eager mom said.
The Visitors Bureau played host to a Native American cultural exhibit and demonstration.
As Tom “Strong Buffalo” Varnado, 73, of Walker, performed for the children, many gathered around to view a large piece of elk skin as he asked them what types of materials are made from animal skin. They also got to sit around a 30-foot teepee brought to the visitors bureau for the event.
“We wanted to do something to bring in the locals and out-of-town visitors,” Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau Director of Sales Emily McKneely said about the exhibit that will also come to the center from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday.
This is the second year, the Visitors Bureau has held the event McKneely said, and the word is spreading quickly. As children sat on the floor, the lobby was standing room only for adults.
“It was very interesting,” said Donna Beagle, 11. “Some of the things I had never heard of before. I never knew they used scales for arrow heads.”
Donna also said she learned techniques, that, if lost in the woods, could help her survive.
“We were just excited that they offered something like this,” said Donna’s mother, Paula Beagle. “It was excellent. It involved the children and gave them hands-on things to do.”
“It’s local and it doesn’t cost much,” she said.
The Native American experience is free for attendees, and children walked away with coloring books and bags of goodies.
As for Varnado, the demonstrations are his passion, he said.
Varnado has been visiting schools, libraries and other venues since 1988.
“That’s my heritage and that’s history,” said Varnado, who also said he swore he’d be a teacher one day.
“It’s respect for Mother Nature,” Varnado said. “Mother Nature furnishes everything. You don’t need all these things. You don’t have to go to Walmart to have fun.”
For more information on the Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau Native American exhibit, visit http://www.tangitourism.com.
The Visitors Bureau is at 13143 Wardline Road, Hammond. McKneely asked that daycares and groups call to schedule an appointment at (985) 542-7520.