Swordfighting? Check! Tango? Check! Voting Machines? Check!

At long last, summer is here! More so than at the new year--when I really just want to hibernate--the beginning of summer feels like the turning of a new leaf, a blank slate, a beckoning vista stretching out before me. With my kids out of school, the rhythm of my household changes, and a sense of possibility looms: What adventures will we have? What will we learn? How will we grow? In early June, there is world enough, and time to dig into bucket lists and new skills.

This year’s How-To Festival promises to give those of us with a seasonally-appropriate hankering for the new and different a jumpstart on summer. We’ve tweaked the format of the festival for this year, and it’s going to be all demonstrations, all the time--come in any time from 11:00 a.m-1:00 p.m. on June 15th and sample the know-how of nearly 50 community members.

Here are a few of the demonstrations I’m looking forward to, plus some suggestions for deeper digging:

How to be a fencer: Toni Wills and Lawrence’s Fencing Club will initiate us into the mysteries of the sport of fencing, from the clothing to the weapons to tactics for winning a bout. En garde!

Fencer's Start-up


How to brew beer: Get ready to make your own summer suds! The Lawrence Brewers Guild will share basic home brewing knowledge and resources, and have brewing equipment and ingredients on hand for show-and-tell.

The Wildcrafting Brewer

The Complete Beer Course

How to register to vote and use a voting machine: The League of Women Voters and the Douglas County Clerk’s Office are teaming up to hold a How-To Festival mock election. Get registered to vote, and cast your ballot using a real voting machine!

The Great American Citizenship Quiz

The Women's Suffrage Movement

How to fix your bike and ride it safely: Folks from Lawrence Unchained and Cyclefix will be on hand to show you how to repair a flat tire, do basic bicycle maintenance, and demonstrate gear for making riding with kids easier. There will even be a strider bike test course for the little ones!

The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual

On Bicycles

How to screenprint: Learn how to screenprint a coozy with a manual press with our friends from Happy Shirt Printing Company!

Print Collective

Simple Screenprinting

How to do drag: Ever wondered what drag is all about? The fabulous Ms. Amanda Love will be here to give us the scoop on doing drag in Lawrence.

Alright Darling?

Why Drag?

How to break a board: Premier Martials Arts will show you how to break a real board with your bare hands--and then let you try!

The Complete Martial Arts Training Manual

Essential Book of Martial Arts Kicks

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg--whether your jam is music, nature, fiber arts, sword fighting, pet care, scrapbooking, flower arranging, bread making, or astronomy, there’ll be something here for you. The How-To Festival is also a great opportunity to connect to community resources for solving tax problems, navigating Medicare, and getting help for someone in crisis. You’ll even have the chance to learn more about how you can make the most of what Lawrence’s libraries--the Lawrence Public Library AND the KU Libraries--have to offer you! 

-Melissa Fisher Isaacs is the Information Services Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library.