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Pioneer Days provides informal learning, games at Historic Village

April 8, 1997

By Elizabeth Case

Lariat Reporter

The 19th Annual Pioneer Days took place on the grounds of the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historical Village Saturday and Sunday.

The Village consists of 23 structures that were originally at Gov. Bill Daniel's Plantation Ranch in Liberty County, 45 miles northeast of Houston. The buildings were moved here in 1986.

Calvin Smith, Director of the Strecker Museum, supervised the relocation.

Pioneer Days began in the basement of the Sid Richardson Science Building 19 years ago. In 1989 the celebration of pioneer life was moved to the Historic Village.

'They do a great job recreating the environment,' said Amanda Moore, a Richardson junior.

Smith said that the planning for the event takes an entire year, making changes according to what worked and did not work in past years.

'This is the first time we have held Pioneer Days on Saturday and Sunday,' Smith said. 'It is usually only on Saturday, and this year, Saturday's turnout was lower than expected.'

Activities were geared toward younger children and families.

'Mostly families have come through,' said Caroline Ekland, a San Diego freshman, who was handing out programs for extra credit in her sociology class.

Activities included apple peeling, story telling, blacksmithing, old-fashioned printing and various children's games.

Fourteen buildings were open for visitors, including a livery stable, saloon, town hall, general store, hotel and church.

'The saloon reminds me of a western movie,' said Brett Sweeney, a San Antonio senior.

University students and professors in period dress offered historical information about village and farm life in the 1890s.

Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, a member of the museum studies faculty, sat on the porch of the General Store as a dictionary holder salesman. The dictionary holder was an invention in 1880.

'This is an informal learning opportunity,' Baker said. 'Pioneer Days offers an ideal situation, and I enjoy the constant interaction with the people that come.'

Chris Fischer, a Fort Worth graduate student in museum studies, demonstrated how laundry was done in the early days.

'It is fun to pretend to be someone different for a while,' Fischer said. 'It helps me appreciate what we have these days.'

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