"The night program, when it was in the fall would bring out a crowd of anywhere from 350 to around 500 people," said Steve McCarty, interpretive ranger for Etowah Indian Mounds, a 54-acre site where several thousand American Indians lived from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1550. "You're talking about a two-and-a-half to three-hour time period, so that's quite a number of people in a short amount of time. ... [During the Torchlight Tour], you will see it to a great extent as people saw it back then.
"You will see the pathways torchlit and the tops of the mounds with luminaries. So it will give you a different perspective of what it would have looked like at night with cooking fires, torches outside of the houses and things like that. No street lights back then, just torchlighting."
Regarded as the most intact Mississippian Culture historic site in the Southeast, Etowah Indian Mounds at 813 Indian Mounds Road in Cartersville features six earthen mounds, a village area, a plaza, borrow pits and a defensive ditch. Along with examining artifacts in the museum, other notable features at the site include a dugout canoe and a reproduction of a wattle and daub hut.
Saturday's special programming will begin with the Native American Tools & Weapons offering from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"People get to see, No. 1, how people started fire, were able to survive using what they could find," McCarty said. "They see blades, arrowheads, points made. They see how these things are turned into knives, spears, arrows [and] how a bow is made.
"The gentleman who does this is pretty much a one-man show. His name is Carl Etheridge and Carl is a local expert. Almost everyone who works in this field knows Carl. He's known far and wide."
Etheridge's demonstrations on how to make and use primitive tools and weapons captivate audiences of all ages.
"I do it [to help educate] the public and to give people an idea of how these folks and how everybody's ancestors made things hundreds and thousands of years ago," said Etheridge, a Cartersville resident. "[I also hope people will have] a better appreciation for using primitive tools and weapons, when [they did not] have modern things like we have nowadays.
"The kids are pretty interested [in the programs]. I get quite a few adults that become quite interested in it also. Two weekends ago [I] did flintknapping demonstrations over at the Fernbank Museum [of Natural History] for their archaeology day and I had a lot of adults that would sit down on the floor and would just hang in there with me the entire time just about, just sit there and watch and ask questions. It's a mix between both adults and children. Children's time spans are a little bit shorter than adults."
Following Etheridge's program, the Etowah Indian Mounds will reopen at 7 p.m. for the Torchlight Tour. The first tour will leave at 7:30 p.m., with the last one departing at 9:30 p.m.
Admission to each event will be $5 for adults and $3.50 for children. If individuals attend the Tools & Weapons program, they can present their receipt at the evening offering and be admitted to the Torchlight Tour free of charge.
For more information about the upcoming programs, call 770-387-3747.