Indian festival a great way to learn about Native Americans

This year's Pow Wow & Indian Festival, running through Sunday at Stone Mountain Park, will be more educational than ever.

Visitors can learn about Native American culture with music, authentic craft demonstrations, cooking samples and storytelling, said Stone Mountain spokeswoman Linda Whittington.

But the main attraction is typically the drum and dance competitions, said Christine Parker, spokeswoman for Stone Mountain Park.

"All the different styles and all the regalia is just dazzling," Whittington said.

Visitors can explore a tepee village, with housing styles dating back to the late 1800s. The village includes demonstrations of fire starting, campfire cooking, tanning, hide scraping, pottery making and primitive tool technology.

It's also easy to learn the differences between how tribes from the Plains and from the Southeast lived by visiting two camps - one full of the tepees typical in the Plains and another with stone lean-tos similar to those found in the Southeast.

"It's a great opportunity for students and families to experience Native American culture in an educational yet entertaining way," Parker said.

The first two days of the four-day event are open for student visitors, while the general public is invited on Saturday and Sunday. About 10,000 students were expected to visit Thursday and today, while families usually make up the weekend crowd, Parker said.

For kids, a big attraction is watching Indian warrior re-enactors on horseback battle it out. They can also sample traditional Native American food, including frybread, beans and roasted corn.

Parker promised fantastic entertainment this weekend, including performances from Bill Miller and his band on Saturday, Okefenokee Joe, Arvel Bird, Tommy Wildcat and a performance from Irene Bedard, the woman who voiced the lead in Disney's "Pocahontas."

"The real attraction for folks this weekend will probably be the entertainment," Parker said.

n What: Sixth annual Pow Wow & Indian Festival

•When: Open to the general public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

•Where: Stone Mountain Park

•Cost: Admission is included with the one-day all attractions pass - $20 for adults and $17 for children.

•Info: Call 770-498-5690 or visit www.stonemountainpark.com.