19th century British botanist's tales shared at 5th annual Ground Hog Sausage festival

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DAYTON -- A British botanist's journey through the Northwest nearly 200 years ago will be part of the Blue Mountain Heritage Society's fifth annual Ground Hog Sausage Fest on Saturday.

Portrayed by retired Lewis & Clark Trail State Park ranger Gary Lentz, the 19th-century explorer will give the audience an insight into the world in the Northwest between 1825 and 1827.

During that time, Douglas traveled through Washington, Idaho and Oregon by foot, horse and canoe collecting seeds, preserving specimens, taking notes and packaging his discoveries to send back to the Royal Horticultural Society in England.

Lentz' presentation is titled "Trifles Will Not Stop Me."

During his wanderings in search of new discoveries, Douglas recorded descriptions of native northwestern trees, shrubs and plants.

For his presentations, Lentz appears in period dress.

Lentz' 35 years with the Washington State Parks coupled with his boyhood in Pennsylvania, where he was a frequent hiker on the Appalachian Trail, brought him to his present avocation as an interpreter of Douglas' life.

At the park between Waitsburg and Dayton, Lentz' long tenure allowed him to observe plant succession through eight floods. He shared his observations and knowledge of the park flora, with visitors.

Lentz has spent nearly 30 years involved with historical re-enactment, learning early 19th century skills along the way.

During the Bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Lentz traveled around the Pacific Northwest appearing as Sgt. Patrick Gass and presenting historical perspectives on the lifestyles of the frontiers.

In studying the travels of Douglas, Lentz has sought and found many of the same plants, flowers and trees in the same locations as Douglas while doing it in period clothing, using period camping gear and techniques.

The Ground Hog Sausage Fest includes dinner, drawings for gift baskets, and the program by Lentz.

Proceeds from the evening benefit the Blue Mountain Heritage Society projects, including the Palus Museum, Smith Hollow School and Columbia County History books.

Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The menu includes sausage patty or brat, baked potato with trimmings, green beans, coleslaw or tossed salad, homemade rolls baked by Roland Schirman, beverage, and homemade pie.

Lentz' presentation will begin around 7 p.m.

The Sausage Fest will be held at the Youth Building at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, 101 N. Pine St.

Suggested donation for admission is $12.50 per individual, or $35 per family. Tickets are available at the Village Shoppes in downtown Dayton, or at the door.

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