Annette Webster has been a docent at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park since 1994. She recently received a Volunteer Medallion in 2018 recognizing her outstanding service at the park – the highest level award given by California State Parks.
How did you get involved at Sutter’s Fort?
I was a long time participant at the Living History Centre’s Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and I had just moved back from a sojourn in Houston, Texas. A friend of mine who had gone through the volunteer training at the State Indian Museum let me know that Sutter’s Fort was taking applications for a new Docent Training Class. It sounded interesting! I had been a Sacramento resident for quite a few years but had never been to the Fort. I applied and interviewed with Katrina Hoover, Ranger Jeff Jones, and one other person (who I forgot now – it’s been 26 years after all). I managed to convince them that I was a good match!
Despite not having the interpretive skills specific to the Fort, I did manage to quickly absorb all the information I needed. I have loved being a docent at the Fort ever since.
What is it that you do in your role as a Sutter’s Fort volunteer?
I have interpreted every room at Sutter’s Fort except the Blacksmith’s Shop and Cooperage. I’ve participated in the Summer Program and of late have primarily been a cook in the period kitchen. My other favorite room is the Gunsmith Shop.
What’s one of your favorite memories?
So many: sharing work and laughter with the many people who have helped me in the kitchen (or, who have allowed me to help in the kitchen with them). Demonstrating black powder long guns to the public and sharing the many idioms that come from frontier/early America.
I was in charge of lunch in the kitchen for the first time. I made honey mustard chicken for the first time also. There had been a wet fog for several days and the wood was so wet it wouldn’t burn. My friend Jan had to stand there with the blowpipe to try and make the fire burn. We couldn’t cook without it! It worked… finally. We christened her with a non-pc nickname which she took in good part. Lunch was finally served an hour later than normal. At least one veteran docent said it was well worth the wait. That experience taught me to make sure I have a good supply of dry wood in the kitchen. It also taught me the value of having good friends help with the meal prep.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not volunteering?
Not surprisingly, I’m a science fiction geek and enjoy reading that genre (as well as history). I go to the movies as often as I can – although, when it’s a historical movie, I often have to keep my criticisms to myself. I also enjoy sewing historical clothing for myself and others and am always researching the material culture of our particular time period (the 1840s). Oh, and I always keep my eyes open for cast iron pots and pans when checking out thrift stores and yard sales. Let us know if you ever see any that look historic!
Thank you, Annette, for the many fond memories and delicious meals. We appreciate everything you do and applaud your 7,020 hours of volunteer service at the park!
We are proud to support the volunteer efforts at Sutter’s Fort SHP with the help of our sponsor, Sutter Health.