Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival returns for 34th year

The bluegrass band Deadwood is one of the featured entertainers at this year’s Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival. The festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, at Hier’s Park.
The bluegrass band Deadwood is one of the featured entertainers at this year’s Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival. The festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, at Hier’s Park. Photo provided.

The Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival returns Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, for its 34th year.

The slow-paced event features re-enactors portraying the lives of the area's early inhabitants, including Native Americans, fur traders, military families and others who found the land surrounding the river's forks to their liking.

Time periods represented include the mid-1700s through the mid-1800s, when the labor-saving devices in today's homes couldn't even be imagined. Re-enactors will demonstrate how to shear a sheep, forge iron into cooking utensils, separate cream, make pottery, spin wool and otherwise use their hands to manufacture the necessities of yesteryear.

Several representatives from the Seven Years War re-enactment group will bring their horses to the festival to stage drills common during the French and Indian Wars of the 1760s.

Also in the encampment area, the Hoosier Ladies Aside will demonstrate the sidesaddle riding that was practiced by the proper lady of the 1860s and 1870s. The riders will give several scheduled demonstrations throughout the weekend and will be available to answer questions at other times.

Period dress will be on display during a fashion show on Sunday afternoon. Re-enactors will model their reproduction period clothing on stage, explaining the purpose and significance of the clothing. Time periods from the 1760s through the Civil War era will be represented.

Children attending the festival can experience old-fashioned games and activities and even ride a giant wooden merry-go-round.

The festival markets will feature crafts, antiques and farm goods, with food vendors offering everything from homemade soup to roasted nuts.

Vintage engines, tractors, cars and bicycles will also be on display.

On-stage entertainment is offered throughout both days.

Saturday's line-up include the Applejack Kloggers, a dance group based in Fort Wayne; The Jamie Olinger Family, a vocal group from Huntington: pianist Gary Bishop, of Huntington; and Deadwood, a bluegrass band based in southwest Michigan.

The Sharp Creek Singers, a group of staff and faculty members from Sharp Creek Elementary School in Wabash County, will entertain on Sunday, along with the Liston Creek Singers, Shade Jonze and Kenny Taylor.

Musicians Mark and Liza Woolever will stroll throughout the grounds during the weekend, as will The Company Singers with their Civil War music.

The festival is held at Hier's Park on Huntington's south side. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. The Warren United Church of Christ will hold an old-time worship service at the park on Sunday at 9 a.m.

Admission is charged, with children under 5 admitted free. Any elementary student dressed in pioneer clothing and accompanied by an adult will also be admitted free.

Free parking is available adjacent to Hier's Park.

No pets, skateboards, bicycles or skates are allowed on the festival grounds. The festival is smoke-free.

The Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival is sponsored by Huntington County Junior Historical Society, Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi Sorority and Friends of the Festival.