By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ride into History on the Santa Fe Trail
Learn to be a historical performer
Courtesy photo: Joyce Thierer created Rosa Fix, a composite character based on the stories of late-ninteenth century farm women.
Courtesy photo: A child assumes the role of a historical character at a Ride into History camp.

The 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail is being commemorated in 2021. The Quivira Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association is sponsoring three individual camps in June to allow participants to learn to be a historical performer and to portray one of the many individuals who were associated with the Santa Fe Trail. Characters include William Becknell, Kit Carson and Susan Shelby Magoffin, just to name a few. Other characters include becoming a Native American, a Hispanic trader, a cavalry soldier, a wagon master or a blacksmith. There are many more possibilities. Joyce Thierer and Ann Birney of Ride into History will provide participants with their expertise on becoming a historical performer and bringing history alive at each week-long camp. No experience is necessary, Ride into History will provide the tools required and local historians will provide an abundance of information about people along the Santa Fe Trail. 

Participants will choose their character and research events from that person’s history. Research will allow accurate portrayal of the person they have chosen. Once they investigate their character, participants will learn the stories to tell. Ride into History will provide the tools each participant needs to weave the stories together in an effective manner as they become the person they are researching. As participants become their character, they will trade their modern-day duds for historical clothing in Ride into History’s portable “Green Room.” Just about any wardrobe needed is available. Hats, boots and shoes will complete the outfit. Each camp will end with a performance so that participants can show off the skills they have learned to family and friends. Participants will assume the persona of their character, tell the stories, and bring history alive for their audience. 

Each camp runs from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and  1-8 p.m. on Friday, which includes the performance. Snacks each day and a pizza supper on the Friday of each camp will be provided. Registration is required and there is a $50 fee. However, scholarships are available based on need. Each camp is limited to 20 participants so interested parties are encouraged to register soon. Fourth-grade students through adults are eligible to join the troupes.

This is a great opportunity for parents and kids or grandparents and grandchildren to attend together, sponsors said. A discount is available for multiple participants from the same family. The following camps are available: 

June 7 - 11: Barton County Camp - Barton County Historical Museum, 85 South U.S. 281, Great Bend

June 14 – 18: Rice County Camp - K-State Research and Extension Building, 701 E. Main, Lyons

June 21 – 25: McPherson County Camp - McPherson Museum, 1111 E. Kansas Ave., McPherson.

Registration information and forms are available at:  

Ride into History was created by Dr. Joyce Thierer and Dr. Ann Birney, who have devoted their lives to performing history and training others to do the same. Thierer is Professor Emeritus from Emporia State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University, master’s degrees in library and history from Emporia State University, and her Ph.D. in American History from K-State. She is honored in the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame and is passionate about performing agrarian, western, and women’s history. Performing, history, and teaching are her passions. Thierer has portrayed Calamity Jane and farm woman Rosa Fix, as well as several other characters. 

Birney earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Kansas. Her field of research is rural women and work. She is a former librarian and portrays Amelia Earhart, Julia Archibald Holmes and suffragist Elizabeth Hampstead. She has been honored by the Kansas Arts Commission and is an artist/educator. She was a founder of the Kansas Alliance of Professional Historical Performers. 

The Ride into History camps are made possible in part through grants from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ride Into History Cultural and Educational Project Inc. and the McPherson County Community Foundation.