It’s easy to focus solely on the future, or to take many modern conveniences for granted. At some point in life, though, most stop to wonder what it would be like to step back into the past – to choose to live the way some were forced to before modern technology progressed at what seems like the speed of light. That’s where The Living History Festival in Lathrop comes in.

The Lathrop Antique Showgrounds is home to the event twice a year,  showcasing some forgotten methods of  survival. Reenactments allow spectators to feel as if they’re a part of a bygone era, while actors convey an understanding of how and why some of our ancestors behaved in the manners they did.

Jim Plowman, President of the Lathrop Antique Car, Tractor and Engine Association, has been affiliated with the organization for forty-two years. This marks the twenty-eighth year of the Living History Festival. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of attending yet, he tells us more about what to expect.

Another amenity festival-goers look forward to every year – the old fashioned goodies. The aforementioned homemade apple butter & apple cider as well as apple fritters and  ice cream. There’s usually a kettle corn stand, as well as other mouthwatering treats to be bought and enjoyed while touring the grounds.

As much as onlookers may like to get lost in the history of it all, the present-day COVID-19 pandemic serves as a constant reminder that it’s 2020. Each year, local school children load a bus for a field trip to the Living History Festival. Opening day would be filled with a fun learning experience for kids of all ages. This year a new generation of would-be spectators will be absent.


The lack of fun education for the kids isn’t the only part of the event that will be different this year due to COVID-19. Jim  talks about another demonstration that has suffered this year, due to the pandemic.

Even with the changes this year’s event has had to endure, the association worked hard to make sure plenty of enjoyment can be had this weekend, especially for the kids.

An exciting facet of the Living History Festival is the presence of the Indian Council of Many Nations, a Native American intertribal organization that dresses traditionally and participates in reenactments at the festival to help educate onlookers about how the Natives and settlers interacted. The Indian Council of Many Nations will be present this year. But, due to the pandemic, expect fewer than usual.

Another attraction nestled on the showgrounds is the old, one-room schoolhouse. Plowman elaborates about how it has a little history of its own.


As stated earlier, Jim Plowman has been involved with the Lathrop Antique Car, Tractor and Engine Association for forty-two years.  He continues to dive into whatever event is coming up next. He shared with KMZU what keeps him involved the most.

The Living History Festival is taking place Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10, at the Lathrop Antique Showgrounds. Plowman, himself, moved to the small, rural town that was once known as the “Mule Capital of the World” over fifty years ago. When asked how he would describe the people of the area, he had nothing but kind things to say.

A small admission fee is usually collected at the Antique Showgrounds gate for these events. This year, however, Jim  says even that is a little different.

More information about The Living History Festival at the Lathrop Antique Showgrounds can be found here.