Pioneer Days mixes history, fun
Civil War enthusiasts from the area will not have to travel to the backwoods of Virginia to experience the Battle of Cold Harbor. It will be re-enacted this weekend in the Fay-West region as part of the annual Perryopolis Pioneer Days.
For many years, the re-enactments have been a vital part of the festival, helping to draw hundreds to the three-day event that is held in and around Sampey Park and Washington Grist Mill in the borough.
“They are bigger and bigger every year,” Pioneer Days committee chairwoman Shirley Baldwin said of the re-enactments. “People come from everywhere to see them.”
The re-enactments will feature re-enactors from all over the area, who will spend Saturday and Sunday engaged in “battle” and also demonstrating living history for the visitors. On Friday, the festival will kick off with gates opening at Sampey Park at 5 p.m. and a dance at the Sons of Italy from 7 to 11 p.m.
“We have about 400 who will take part in the battle this year,” said Harry Fisher, master sergeant with the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Company E re-enactors.
Fisher said the group in charge of the “battle” takes pains to keep it as accurate as possible.
“They really do their homework,” Fisher said. “They take their time to learn the battles.”
The battle re-enactments will be presented at Sampey Park east, a special camp area where visitors will be able to experience Civil War life up close.
For those who want activities, entertainment and food, they will not go away disappointed. Pioneer Days features plenty of things to do, see and eat.
“This year we are having a car show, which will be really nice if the weather cooperates,” Baldwin said.
The famously restored Grist Mill will be open for tours and will feature a quilt show. Visitors can vote for their favorite quilts and will also have the opportunity to win a quilt that will be offered for raffle.
There will be musical entertainment throughout the weekend and many children's activities planned. Visitors who enjoy a country setting and the chance to experience a taste of history are welcome.
“Our re-enactors come from all over the area,” Fisher said. “They come from all over the state, West Virginia and New York. They pretty much come far and wide.”
The event will take place, rain or shine, but the group is hoping for sunny skies, something that they haven't been blessed with for several years.
“Last year was awful,” Baldwin said. “It rained and rained and it rained the year before. We need a good, dry, sunny weekend and then we'll really see the big crowds again.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.