The Lee County Historical Society held its annual Pioneer day at Pioneer Park in Loachapoka on Saturday. Pioneer Day has been a staple in the community for decades with many long term traditions and vendors.
Amy Young, vendor at Pioneer Day, sells leather belts and other crafts. Young talked about her family's history with Pioneer day.
“Our grandad started this over 30 years ago,” Young said. “Over 30 years ago he started making these leather belts and coming to pioneer day to sell them. So for us, Pioneer Day means coming here early selling a bunch of leather belts and saying ‘hi’ to people. My grandad started it, now it's me and my aunt and my cousin Trent, so it's generation after generation. So I guess Pioneer Day is about that tradition.”
Young’s mother, Ginger Young, also discussed the progression of the event since her father started attending it.
“It's very traditional. We've seen it change and grow over the years in many ways,” Ginger Young said. “COVID hurt it for a couple of years, and now we’re back and my dad is longer able to come and be here physically so we come for him. It's a lot more modern vendors, it used to be a lot of traditional stuff like woodworking and leather, but now there are a lot of modern vendors.”
Pioneer Day has many vendors who have attended for years but it also is an opportunity for new groups to set up and spread information.
Erin Cooper, graduate student in human development and family science, had a table set up in order to spread the word about her Auburn-based project that provides classes to couples.
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“We are a project based at Auburn University,” Cooper said. “We are in the department of human development and family sciences and we are funded by the federal government department of Health and Human Services to offer free couple relationship classes in the community. So we're not here doing business things.This is all free stuff; we just want to tell people about the awesome services we provide.”
Cooper talked about why she felt that Pioneer Day was a good opportunity for the group.
“We know the legacy that pioneer day has on our community,” Cooper said. “So many people come out for it every year from what I've heard and that's definitely what I've experienced today and so we knew it would be a great event to come to and let as many people as possible know what we do for our community.”
While many of the vendors that attended the event focused on selling their art and food, there were also many vendors offering other services.
Teresa Dorries has been attending the event for years and offers basket weaving classes to the community.
“We've been setting up for years,” Dorries said. “We just get together in January and meet once a month, and that's strictly to follow up to finish to show off what you have done. It's really nice to just get together. We just get to sit and weave during Pioneer Day.”
In her years as a vendor at Pioneer Day, Dorries said that those who sign up for the class have changed a lot.
“Usually it's just old ladies,” Dorries said. “Would you believe one third of our sign up list is kids? Kids who are ten, eleven — usually girls. But even today there are boys who are also interested. We love it when they're young and interested.”
The vendors are only one part of what Pioneer Day offers, the event also has syrup making, pony rides, face painting and live music.
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