Perfomers at Chillicothe’s Feast of the Flowering Moon (photo by Joe Murray)

The History Behind Chillicothe’s Feast of the Flowering Moon

This festival highlights the region’s rich Native American heritage and features performers from federally recognized tribes that share that story through traditional dance.  

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks span eight sites built by the Indigenous people who lived in what is now Ohio and includes Chillicothe’s Mound City Group as well as the Hopewell Mound Group and the Hopeton and Seip earthworks. That rich Native American heritage is celebrated in Chillicothe each year during Feast of the Flowering Moon.

In 1984, the Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau founded the three-day festival as a celebration dedicated to the area’s history. Feast of the Flowering Moon teaches all ages about Native American culture, specifically through the performance of traditional dances. The event also features Native American music, a Mountain Man Encampment with working craftsmen, entertainment, food trucks and more.

The Shawnee people call this time of year the Flowering Moon, a season marked by the first full moon in May when Mother Earth gives her bounty back to her children. Native American cultures perform traditional dances during this time in celebration of surviving the Starving Moon, the name given to the full moon in February.

“Our dance is showing others what our culture is and having pride in the things that we do,” says Jason Whitehouse, a performer at the Chillicothe event who has been sharing his culture in this way for more than 40 years. “That’s one of the things we’re able to express at the festival. We have a spot to keep Native culture alive throughout the masses.”

More than 35,000 people attend Feast of the Flowering Moon, held annually at downtown Chillicothe’s Yoctangee Park to see dancers from federally recognized tribes across the U.S. and Canada, including representatives of the Ojibwe, Chippewa and Shoshone Paiute. The performers are clothed in vibrant traditional attire and provide an understanding and insight into these cultures that are still very much part of the modern world.

“To [many] little kids, Natives are just something that doesn’t exist anymore, something they learn about in school that happened a long time ago,” Whitehouse says. “Feast of the Flowering Moon brings reality to their history.”

Yoctangee Park is located along Water Street in downtown Chillicothe. For more information, visit