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Pioneer Fest to celebrate old, new

PIONEER MUSIC:Old-time music sets the tone for the 44th annual Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival, Sept. 28 and 29 in Huntington.

STAFF REPORT

The Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival returns to Huntington for its 44th year on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28 and 29.

The festival celebrates Indiana life in the early- to mid-1800s, when Native Americans, white settlers and French traders populated the area, as well as the pioneering spirits of later eras.

Festival guests can see a blacksmith at work, tradesmen caning chairs and weaving baskets, homemakers churning butter and separating cream, and frontiersmen cooking their game over open fires.

This year’s festival theme is “Celebrating Hoosier Authors,” and re-enactors will portray Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley and naturalist and author Gene Stratton-Porter. In addition, nine local authors who have proved themselves to be pioneering spirits in the field of independent publishing.

The 1st U.S Light Artillery, 1812, will engage in military drills, and riders on horseback will demonstrate their sharpshooting skills. Abe Lincoln will be seen offering his perspective on the times.

Huntington’s Champion Hill Toppers and the Black Flags of Drovertown will host vintage baseball games both days, making bare-handed catches and demonstrating the courtly manner common in the early days of the game.

The festival stage features continuous entertainment. More music and even a melodrama can be encountered throughout the festival grounds.

Children can learn lessons in a pioneer schoolhouse, play some unique musical instruments, fly through the sky on a merry-go-round made of ropes and logs and try their hands at a variety of games.

Although the focus of the festival is the traditional pioneer era, the weekend also pays tribute to the new-fangled ideas of slightly later times with displays of antique motorcars, vintage bicycles, timeworn tractors and early engines.

Crafts and antiques fill a large building, and vittles are plentiful. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29.

A nondenominational old-time worship service will be held Sunday at 9 a.m., before the festival opens.

Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for students of any age, and free for children under 5. Free parking is available adjacent to the festival grounds.

The festival takes place at the Huntington County Fairgrounds, located at 631 E. Taylor St., Huntington, IN.

Proceeds support a host of community programs.