Pioneer Park in Loachapoka is open and free to the public on the Second Saturday of each month.
The next open house will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pioneer Park is a project of the Lee County Historical Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, presentation, and education about local history.
Visitors are encouraged to wear face masks to protect themselves and others. Visitors can keep their social distance while visiting five historic structures and six other buildings that house functions and artifacts related to the history of the Lee County area. There are six gardens on the campus that showcase plants and crops related to Alabama history, including a herb and medicinal plant garden, Grandma’s Garden, a crops garden, a pioneer kitchen garden, a native American garden, and an heirloom Camellia garden.
The Trade Center (circa 1845) houses the main museum displays while a separate building houses old farm equipment. There is a cotton exhibit in a small scale house that was once part of an old cotton gin.
The oldest building is the newest addition to Pioneer Park. The circa 1830 Barnard-Newell house was built by a Creek Indian who fought with Andrew Jackson at the nearby Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
During the day on every Second Saturday at Pioneer Park, volunteers conduct demonstrations and workshops that may include blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, basketmaking, chair caning, outdoor cooking and gardening.
On most Second Saturdays, volunteers prepare a lunch similar to what would have been served on a 19th-century Alabama homestead. Visitors can enjoy the sunshine or relax under the shade of old pecan trees while they get a taste of history at Pioneer Park in Loachapoka.
Recently, the Trade Center Museum Store has been stocked with homemade jams, jellies and preserves made from local produce.
Pioneer Park and Second Saturdays are hosted by volunteers of the Lee County Historical Society, More information can be found at www.leecountyhistoricalsociety.org.
Pioneer Day Moved to Oct. 24
Pioneer Day at Loachapoka (aka Syrup Soppin’ Day) has been moved to Saturday, Oct.24.
It was originally scheduled for Oct. 31, but a change in Auburn University’s football game with LSU conflicted, so it was moved up a week.
This will be the 50th anniversary of this annual event that began as a historical fair in 1970 by the newly formed Lee County Historical Society.
Today, the event features arts, crafts and food vendors from throughout the region as well as historical demonstrations by the Lee County Historical Society.
This fall festival centers around the Alabama tradition of making sugar cane (or sorghum) syrup in the fall after the cotton and peanut harvest. 19th Century communities would come together to harvest the cane, crush the stalks using horse and mule power, and cook the sugar cane juice to make delicious syrup for soppin’ pancakes and biscuits during the winter. This may have been the only sweetener that many families had.
The tradition continues every Pioneer Day in Loachapoka. Visitors can take home a jar or two of real sugarcane or sorghum syrup or try some of the jam, jellies and preserves sold by the Museum Store in Pioneer Park.
Pioneer Day is sponsored by the Lee County Historical Society and the Town of Loachapoka. More information can be found at www.leecountyhistoricalsociety.org.