The Lee County Historical Society’s 41st-annual Historical Festival, Saturday, Oct. 20, highlights the traditions and crafts of historic Alabama.
Directly across the street from the festival will be Syrup Sopping Saturday, an event sponsored by the Loachapoka Ruritan Club, Ladies Improvement Club and the Lee County Historical Society.
Deborah McCord, event planner for Lee County Historical Society, said the historical festival began in 1971 as a way to pass on the old traditions and keep them alive.
“The Lee County Historical Society wanted to have a day to invite people in to see old-timey or heritage crafts and the historical documents and things that we have here at the Historical Society,” McCord said. ”So, they had the Historical Fair.”
Lee County Historical Society saw the festival as a way to demonstrate the historic crafts and traditions to new generations in order to keep them going.
“The vendors have historical crafts, homemade jellies and preserves, homemade syrups, homemade biscuits and those kinds of things,” McCord said.
“They also have handcrafts like basket making, pottery, woodcarvings and other heritage crafts. Our side of the street still carries on that historical and heritage flavor.”
McCord said the Syrup Sopping Saturday started in 1971 because Loachapoka farmers have been making the syrup from the early days of the town.
“They demonstrate cooking the syrup down, and they have mills that grind the sugar cane,” McCord said. “We also do the syrup on this side (Historic Festival), and we grind sugar cane. The kids get to go out and see the cutting of the cane, and we let the children help grind the cane. They get to taste the juice, and then the syrup is cooked in the syrup mill.”
The two events work to expose new generations to the historical traditions and crafts of East Alabama and inspire them to continue the traditions.
“We try to stick to the heritage crafts like you would find in a pioneer village,” McCord said. “Things like pine straw baskets, pottery, wood carvings, hand-crocheted and knitted items, handmade loom items.”
McCord said a lot of the pottery at the events is made from Alabama clay.
However, McCord said the Historical Festival and Syrup Sopping Saturday do more than show historical crafts and food.
There will be musical performances to represent different musical styles from that time, dance performances, surrey rides, a petting zoo and exhibits to showcase local history.
McCord said the Historical Fair also works to represent the Creek Indian heritage. Loachapoka was a Creek settlement.
“Loachapoka was named by the Creek Indians,” McCord said. “We have Creek Indian dancers that will be here at the Historical Fair, and they will perform three times during the day. They’re very specific to the history of this region.”
The fair and Syrup Sopping Saturday are two events the Lee County Historical Society put on in an effort to save the historical traditions and crafts of the local area.
“We’re truly trying to preserve our heritage as far as crafts, food, songs and dance and other things that we do here to keep it from being lost,” McCord said. “We’re trying to have it as an educational format so that our children won’t forget this heritage and can pass it on to future generations.”