Pioneer Days return after two decades

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

For the first time in more than two decades, Carroll County residents will get the opportunity to step back in time this weekend and experience daily life as it existed for the first pioneers in the county — some of whom may even be family members.

According to event organizers, the newest iteration of Carroll County Pioneer and Heritage Days is a chance to bring back “a lost tradition” to the county.

“We’re reviving Pioneer Days to celebrate our unique, exciting past,” said Star Lee, president of the Carroll County Historical and Genealogical Society. “We are doing this for our children so they can learn about and experience our Ozarks heritage.”

Lee said the once annual event hadn’t been held in more than 20 years, and the historical society board felt it was time to bring it back, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of numerous events across the city, county and state.

“It’s been on the mind of the board — of several boards — for some time,” Lee said, “and we finally decided to do it. People kept saying, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s do that,’ as we decided we just need to have Pioneer Days and let’s see what we can come up with.”

Pioneer Days, which will be held from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25, at Pioneer Park in Berryville, will feature actors in period costume spinning historical tales and explaining the significance of the vintage buildings in Pioneer Park, including the Little Red Schoolhouse from high atop Pension Mountain, the Newberry Cabin, the replica of a pioneer jail and the Carroll Progress printing press building.

This will be the first time the schoolhouse is open to the public since it was moved by the city from Pension Mountain to its new home in Pioneer Park in 2018.

In addition, there will be demonstrations of everything from weaving and spinning to milking and butter making, leather-working, quilting and Dutch oven cooking, along with various games like cornhole, horseshoes and axe throwing. In addition, there will be a number of food and craft vendors, pony rides and a covered wagon to explore.

“It takes a community to do stuff like this,” Lee said, giving credit to the many local community members and businesses that have lent a hand. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

In addition to all the vendors, games and interactive demonstrations, there will also be live music both days, including Sky Pollard, the Gyspies and Black Mountain Fever, a high-energy bluegrass-style string band. Friday’s concert will begin at 5:30 p.m. and there will be live music all day on Saturday.

Lee said the schedule of events is still being finalized but that it would be ready Friday.

“There’s a whole lot of stuff going on, and we’re still hearing from people that want to do something or be a vendor,” Lee said.

In addition to the main events at Pioneer Park — located on Spring Street behind the Berryville Public Library — there will also be other events happening on the downtown square, like the monthly Carroll County Cruisers car show, and at the newly restored Mill Creek Spring.

During the free event, Lee said the Carroll County Heritage Center Museum, located in the old courthouse on the square, also will be open to the public.

Lee said she and the other organizers are excited about this “new, old tradition,” but they’re keeping their expectations realistic.

“We don’t think it will be super big this year,” Lee said, “but next year, we want to make it bigger and better. We want to get all the towns involved.”

If history serves, she said, that shouldn’t be too hard.

“We come from a long line of pioneers and settlers,” Lee said. “This event gives us a chance to make history come alive again and see how people used to live. We want to keep our traditions alive.”

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