Hero defeats villain again as HNHS Masque and Gavel returns to Forks

Jackson Lunsford (center) delivers a newly-discovered treasure that will save the Pureheart family from being tossed out in the cold by a wicked landlord. Rejoicing in the find are (from left) Alexis Keplar, Claire Driscoll, Angus Jones and Kiana Kistler. The scene is from “Polly Pureheart Prevails,” to be presented throughout the weekend during the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival this Saturday and Sunday.
Jackson Lunsford (center) delivers a newly-discovered treasure that will save the Pureheart family from being tossed out in the cold by a wicked landlord. Rejoicing in the find are (from left) Alexis Keplar, Claire Driscoll, Angus Jones and Kiana Kistler. The scene is from “Polly Pureheart Prevails,” to be presented throughout the weekend during the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival this Saturday and Sunday. Photo provided.

Every year, the evil villain seems certain to be victorious.

And every year, the hero overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to save the day.

It’s a theme that never changes — although the twists and turns from beginning to end take a different route each time.

This weekend, “Polly Pureheart Prevails” as the Huntington North High School Masque and Gavel returns to the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival.

Dexter Do-Good (Angus Jones) will, of course, get the girl — Polly Pureheart (Kiana Kistler) — as goodness triumphs over the evilness of the moustache-twirling, rent-collecting landlord, Wesley Wicked (Robert Borland).

But, of course, there’s a twist. Wesley Wicked’s true identity is revealed as Ollie Pureheart, Polly’s twin brother, who was kidnapped by a nurse who wanted a baby of her own. And, of course, a family reunion ensues.

The melodrama will be presented both days of the festival, Sept. 23 and 24, every hour on the half-hour. It’s directed by Ruth Reed with assistance from Marie Kistler and also features David Troyer, Jackson Lunsford, Keaton Kline, Gavin Bickel, Bailey Zook, Sabryna Cloutier, Alexis Keplar, Claire Driscoll, Dymond Asher, Alyssa Dauscher, Abby Horn, Megan Landon, Bethany Marcum and McKenzie Wheatley.

The festival opens Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. and continues until 6 p.m. It returns on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A non-denominational old-time worship service is offered Sunday at 9 a.m.

This year’s festival offers something new, a Men’s General Store. Area Chair Jamie Foday has assembled about 10 vendors who will offer such items as milk cans painted with sports logos, metal stands used for target practice, coins, stamps, military relics, comic books, fishing lures, old knives and more.

“It’s kind of geared toward man-themed items, but it will have items that will appeal to anybody,” Foday says.

On Sunday, a caricature artist who specializes in sports-themed drawings will be at the Men’s General Store. The attraction will be inside one of the cattle barns toward the rear of the festival grounds.

As always, festival guests will be able to 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.

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 will host a vintage base ball tournament, making bare-handed catches and demonstrating the courtly manner common in the early days of the game.

The festival stage features continuous entertainment, and more music will be encountered throughout the festival grounds.
Children can learn their lessons in a pioneer school house, 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 pioneering spirits of slightly later times with displays of antique motorcars, vintage bicycles, time-worn tractors and early engines.

Crafts and antiques fill two large buildings, and vittles are plentiful.

The festival takes place at Hier’s Park and the Huntington County Fairgrounds, at 547 S. Briant St., Huntington. Admission is charged and free parking is available adjacent to the festival grounds.

More information is available online at www.PioneerFestival.org.