By Vanessa Poulson
For the Opelika
The 47th Annual Pioneer Day held at Loachapoka’s Pioneer Park returns Oct. 20 with plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
This year’s event will include the harvesting of cotton, peanuts, sugarcane and sweet potatoes in a 19th century style garden. Children can work to help turn sugarcane into sugar cane juice lemonade by turning a syrup mill which was traditionally done with horses.
Guests can learn how to shell and grind corn into cornmeal and make rope from grass string. Horses will be helping to turn the old syrup mills and the juice will be cooking into golden syrup over a hot fire.
Members of the Lee County Historical Society and hundreds of volunteers will be on hand to help orchestrate a historical look at pioneer life like no other. Take time to visit the museums at Pioneer Park and see blacksmiths working at the forge and spinners and weavers turning cotton and wool into fabric.
There will also be plenty of different food vendors serving a variety of dishes, including pork rinds and funnel cakes to boiled and roasted peanuts.
Visitors can also visit the Cook House at Pioneer Park for a taste of the Lee County Historical Society’s famous sweet potato biscuits with homemade syrup. More than 100 vendors are expected to be providing food and crafts throughout the entirety of the event.
This annual festival was once called “Syrup Soppin’ Day in Loachapoka” but the event was modified in 2015 because so much more than just biscuits and syrup were featured at the event. The festival has diversified its offerings and now allows people to experience so many different facets of pioneer life.
A special feature of the 2018 Pioneer Day at Loachapoka will be the Poarch Creek Traditional Arts group, featuring artists, quilters, basket makers, potters, speakers and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to speak with the artists about their creations.
The park’s newly restored Barnard-Newell log house will be another featured attraction at Pioneer Day with a Creek Indian connection. It was built in 1830 by a Creek Indian.
Teresa Paglione, a past president of the Alabama Archeological Society, president of the local East Alabama Archaeology chapter and a member of the Board of Trustees of Lee County Historical Society, will be hosting tours of the circa 1830 log house during Pioneer Day.
The event will last from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Pioneer Park is located at 6500 Stage Road.