Forging hammer in hand, sparks flying, the village blacksmith was a magician with iron and fire. A man of metals, the “smithy” forged wheels, horseshoes, nails, blades, and tools of every shape and dimension. Volunteer blacksmiths will demonstrate their skill at the Heritage Village at Big Creek every Thursday from 1:30 – 3:30 pm through October 5.
Led by Al Briggs, a 20-year veteran of blacksmithing, Mel Hendrichs, Larry Demaster, Larry Stuth, Steve Van Oudenhoven, Jon Neuville, Kyle Neuville, Adam Weldon, Doug Zillmer, and Jim Zillmer practice their skills at the Village shop. “The most important thing about blacksmithing is watching and then trying it out. Once you have the basics, you can get as creative as you want,” said Briggs.
A retired Methodist minister, Briggs, found his way to the forge by happenstance. “I was volunteering at Heritage Hill in Green Bay and one day the blacksmith didn’t show up. I was asked to help and I’ve been at it ever since,” he explained. “I don’t want the craft to die out so I keep teaching the young ones coming up.”
Friend and fellow-smithy Don Brusky is amazed at Briggs’ dedication. “He is going to be 90 years old in November and he just keeps going,” said Brusky.
The Heritage Village at Big Creek, open daily 1:30 – 3:30 pm, is located at 2041 Michigan Street, at the intersection of Highway 42/57 and County Highway TT in Sturgeon Bay. For more information visit HeritageVillage.DoorCountyHistoricalSociety.org or contact Dan Olson at 920.421.2332.