Pioneer Days offer hands-on experiences

Published 10:50 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Pioneer Days at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama are just about the biggest, if not the biggest, single, annual event at the museum.

This year’s Pioneer Days event will be on Friday and Saturday, with Friday designated as school day and Saturday as family day. Already, more than 700 students and teachers have registered for Friday’s big school event.

Those who have been to Pioneer Days know what great fun is in store for them. Those who are coming for the first time are in for a real treat, said Rachael Greve, museum director.

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“This will be Pioneer Days’ 17th anniversary and it is shaping up to be a great event,” Greve said. “We have several new vendors and are really excited to be able to bring them to the museum.”

Bob Rosser from Birmingham is the only hand-engraving and metal smither in the state.

“Bob Rosser does the most incredible engraving work that you have ever seen and he does it the way it used be done – by hand – and that’s a dying art.”

David Stephens, founder of All Hands Productions, has been bringing quality puppet productions to children and their parents for more than a decade.

“David is a graduate of Troy University and his puppets have been seen on stage and television,” Greve said. “On Friday, he will present, ‘Billy Goat Gruff and Other Stuff’ and on Saturday he will do Br’er Rabbit tales. He is outstanding.”

Back by popular demand will be Al Bouler, who portrays Davey Crockett and Bruce Brennen’s Wild West Show. Bouler has appeared at Fort Toulouse and at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Brennen is a cowboy poet and a master of trick and fancy roping and with the bullwhip.

Pioneer Days will also feature a variety of demonstrations including spinning, weaving, quilting and woodstove cooking, flint knappping and primitive tool working.

“Agnes Johnson will be in the demonstration cabin and she’ll teach the children how to ‘tote’ water and clean floors with a cornshuck mop,” Greve said. “Pioneer Days will be a fun and learning experience for all ages.”

Grover Poole and Don Renfroe will offer rides on a mule-drawn wagon and children will have fun riding the museum’s locomotive. And there will be a baby barnyard for the little kids.

Donnie Richards from Tennille will be on hand with his unique “Come Heah Ta Me” turkey calls.

And, no one is saying that Richards’ calls were used to call up the turkeys that are the source of the smoked turkey legs that will be for sale at Pioneer Days, but then no one has said they weren’t either.

Smoked sausage, smoked turkey legs and funnel cakes will be available as will samples of Dutch oven cooking cooked on-site by the Lower Alabama Dutch Oven Cookers.

“Pioneer Days will offer a great weekend of fall festival fun that focuses on pioneer lifeways,” Greve said. “We invite everyone to join us as we celebrate our 17th year.”

Admission to Pioneer Days is $6 for adults, $5 for senior adults and military/service organizations, and $4 for ages six through college with an ID. Ages five and under are admitted free.