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2015 Bitterroot Valley Knap-in Report

Hosts Richard and Joan Urata
June 18th - 23rd, 2015

(photos courtesy of Joan Urata, Ray Harwood, Mick Hill, Henry Payne and Jim Keffer)

By Richard and Joan Urata

The weather for the fifth annual Bitterroot knap-in was near perfect. Temperature was 70's to 80's during the days and in the 50’s at nights.

Forty-five knappers with their spouses and friends brought the total of about 75 attendees to the knap-in. The knapper that came the farthest was Jack Hemphill and his wife Marilyn from Amarillo, Texas. Other locations represented were OR, WA, ID, TX, MT and Alberta, Canada.

See the pictures on Facebook with this link:
Click through the pictures using the arrows on the sides of the pictures. You do not have to join Facebook to see the pics.

The knap-in started on Thursday as the RV's started arriving throughout the day. Many of the early attendees helped set up the tables, pop-ups, and chairs in the parking lot, and the bales of hay for the target range. The picnic tables in the pavilion were moved to make room for the knappers. There were lots of greetings and a little bit of knapping before the lasagna dinner was served to all the helpers. Attendees volunteered side dishes which made the dinner great.

Friday was a busy day of knapping, archery shooting and atlatl throwing. Our atlatl instructor was Don Safford!

The women were busy with crafts and conversation. Holly was crocheting rugs, Beverly was hooking a wall hanging, Cheryle was felting a pixie house, Joan was crocheting a baby hat and all were looking for tips on new projects.  Lots of hiking trips were initiated all through the weekend.

Joan and the ladies provided us with a hot dog lunch, salad and raspberry shortcake from the Urata farm.

A treat was in store after dinner when the ‘Bitter Grass String Band’ (a bluegrass group) came to play some bluegrass music for us. Members of the group were: Sue Pearson on fiddle, Mavis Buroker on fiddle, Susan McCauley on guitar, Jim McCauley on mandolin and Cleo Guenther on bass. After playing a bunch of songs, the group invited our own musicians to join them. Holly Hill (flute), Sean McQueen (guitar) and Donn Paris (guitar) joined them and played several songs before ending the session. Everyone enjoyed the music. To show our appreciation Jim Keffer provided PSK patches to make them honorary members of the PSK and we provided points for each of the musicians in the group.

Saturday morning was the warm-up session for the 2-inch goat. Twenty knappers played the game. There was lots of ribbing during the game. Sean McQueen was the winner this year. Last year he was in second place. Dick Kocan suggested a new contest to give recognition to the knapper who made the best point during the knap-in and to help the host with costs of putting a knap-in on.

This is how it works:

1. No entry fee.
2. More than one entry allowed per person.
3. Anyone attending the knap-in can enter.
4. Any lithic (stone) material can be used.
5. Any kind of stone "tool" is eligible (knapper's choice).
6. Must be made at the knap-in (can't bring a finished or near finished piece from home).
7. Entries close and judging occurs prior to the auction.
8. Points are judged by everyone who wishes to judge. One vote per person.
9. Each point is placed on a sheet of paper, no names on paper.
10. Judges look at all of the points and pick one that he or she thinks is the best.
11. Judge marks the paper that is under the point.
12. Winners will receive monetary award from the host.
13. Point with the highest number of votes takes first place and receives $NN.NN
14. Point with next highest number of votes takes second place and receives $NN.NN
15. Point with the third highest number of votes takes third place and receives $NN.NN
16. All of the points that are entered go to the action.
17. Winners can bid on their own entries along with everyone else.
18. Proceedings from the auction go to the host.

In the Bitterroot Knap-in of 2015, there were 10 entries.

1st place: Sean Mc Queen won with his Montana agate arrow head. This kid is only in high school!!!
2nd place: Mick Hill with his monster dacite (obsidian) blade.
3rd place: Tie - Dick Kocan with a Hopewell point of mahogany obsidian.
3rd place: Tie - Jack Hemphill with a side notch arrowhead of Texas flint.

Joan cooked 35 pounds of shoulder blade pork roasts for the pulled pork pot luck. Everyone joined the potluck with tons of goodies. For appetizers we had several kinds of cookies, chips, and dips. Two outstanding appetizers were Joe Greenwell’s artichoke dip and Joe Higgins’ smoked salmon. We had stews, bean dishes, salads, pastas, pies and other deserts. We had so much food that we had a lot of leftovers.

After the dinner cleanup we had the auction where lots of people participated in both donating and bidding on the items. Jim Keffer was the auctioneer and kept everyone entertained. Thanks to all that participated in the auction! After the auction many people went to the fire pit where the nightly fire was lit. Night owls enjoyed the fire every night.

On Sunday, people woke up to a pancake breakfast provided and cooked by Joe and Arlene Wernex. It was so good that Arlene had to go back to their trailer several times to get more pancakes. Joe cooked in their trailer while Arlene delivered them to the table several trailers away. Keffers brought sausages and we cooked eggs and brats that were donated by Don Safford.

After breakfast, Jim Keffer brought out the PVC pipes and jigs to do a demonstration on making archery bows with ¾ inch and 1 inch dia schedule 40 PVC pipes. He used the fire in the fire pit and heated and bent the pipes into bow shapes. I’m not sure but I think 4 or 5 bows were made.

Leftovers from Saturday night’s dinner were set out for lunch. Pulled pork, salads, bean dishes, deserts, chips, cookies and ice cream were on the menu. Monday started with knapping, archery shooting and atlatl throwing in the morning.

We had cold cut sandwiches for lunch with chips, cookies and vegetable and potato salads.

After lunch Jim wanted to have a lesson on playing his newly acquired didgeridoo. Jim received lessons from Ray Alt and George Bryce. Sandy Beattie was interested so she joined the lesson and started blowing the didgeridoo. She is now interested in getting one.

We had a lovely spaghetti dinner prepared by Jim & Beverly Keffer to finish off the food from the knap-in. Sausages, salads, pickled goodies and cookies provided a well rounded meal….yummy! People were interested in leaving early Tuesday so the cleanup of the camp started in early evening instead of Tuesday morning. We were all done in a couple of hours so some of us went to sit by the fire. We got a treat when Cheryl Bryce played the flute, Don Paris played the guitar and sang some cowboy story songs and Mick Hill played his bagpipes. Holly Hill joined in on her flute too!

Joan and I would like to thank you all for helping us prepare the camp site before the knap-in and clean up after the knap-in, providing side dishes for the community meals and helping in food setups before and cleanups after the meals. You all made the knap-in a success. See you all next year!

Addendum by Jim Keffer

Richard and Joan continued their streak of outstanding knap-ins.   The 2015 Bitterroot Valley Knap-in will be remembered for a number of highlights including a terrific Bluegrass Concert, largest turnout, lots of newbies, great Potluck meals (dinners, lunches and even breakfast!), and even PVC pipe Bow-Making!

Set in the incredibly beautiful Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana, this knap-in has undoubtedly one of the PSK's best locations. The weather is terrific and the group campground is set in a forest of large Ponderosa pines with areas for archery and atlatl.

In addition to the largest crowd of PSK members, including some first time attendees, we also had quite of few noobies who showed up wanting to learn to flintknap. As is traditional at PSK knap-in there were lots of members willing and able to give lessons including outstanding knappers Mick Hill and Joe Higgins.

We also took some time to demonstrate making bows from PVC pipe - something we'd learned from PSK members Nick Tomihama who has literally written the books on this subject. While it may seem strange to some, additional activities like bow making are common at PSK knap-in. We done everything from putting together Native American style drums to forging knives and tomahawks. There is always something different!

Covering the cost of this always free event again proved very easy.  We had an very successful raffle of a community point, one of the best auctions in recent memory, and certainly the largest 2" Goat Competition this author has ever witnessed!   Ironically the 2" Goat was won by the youngest PSK member in attendance - the same young man that won the 10-Speed competition last year!


Sunday Group Photo - unfortunately many had left on Saturday so we didn't get everyone

Attendees (* denotes new PSK member)

Michael Devoney* - Port Angeles, WA Bill and Judy Thomas -Lyden, WA
Rich Pettersen - Kalispell, MT Don Safford - Hot Springs, MT
Danne Guthrie* - Stevensville, MT Harvey Zacker - Spokane, WA
Greg Munther* - Missoula, MT Eric Barnett - Sandpoint, ID
Janet and Max Grow, Renton, WA Kirk, Jeanne, Drake and Lita Norby* - Corvallis, MT
Ryan Barnes* - MT Joe and Arlene Wernex - Ellensburg, WA
Richard and Joan Urata - Hamilton, MT Ray Harwood - Post Falls, ID
Ray and Harriet Alt - Livingston, MT George and Cheryl Bryce, Livingston, MT
Bill McConnell - Bozeman, MT Jack and Marilyn Hemphill - Amarillo, TX
Jim Smith - Bothell, WA Jim and Beverly Keffer - Sammamish, WA
Joe Greenwell - West Seattle, WA Bettye Hensel - Everett, WA
Mick and Holly Hill - Lacey WA Dick and Laura Kocan - Suquamish, WA
John and Sue Pearson - Stevensville, MT Toby Walrath - Corvallis, MT
Matt and Sarah DeJong - Bozeman, MT Gary Steele* - Ignacius, MT
Faith Farley - Corvallis, MT Mike and Linda Augenstein - Reno, NV
Joe and Sunny Higgins - Oak Harbor, WA Sean McQueen - Kalispell, MT
Melvin and Sandy Beatte Donn Paris - Elma, WA
Brian Rayner - Great Falls, MT Karen Rayner - Hamilton, MT
Eric Pearson - Stevensville, MT Tristan Pearson - Stevensville, MT
Barry and Karen Rogers - Canmore, Alberta, Canada Henry and Rosalie Payne - Harrisburg, OR

For many more photos please visit Joan Urata's Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1017960948215200.1073741842.100000039134217&type=1&l=4da5db2551 


Bluegrass Concert!

Bluegrass 1

Bluegrass 2

Bluegrass 3

Bluegrass 4

Bluegrass 5

PVC Pipe Bow Making

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