The Highland County Historical Society held its second Pioneer Day on Saturday at the Scott House in Hillsboro and the turnout was large enough that John Kellis, one of the event organizers, said the historical hopes to grow the event and make in an annual outing.
Last year’s Pioneer Day was cancelled due to COVID-19 and Kellis estimated that on Saturday about 500 people, around the same number that attended two years ago, turned out for the event.
“We said all along we weren’t looking for a big crowded place where everyone comes all at once,” Kellis said. “The best thing about it was that people were coming and going all day long. Some would stay for a little while and move on and some stayed for a long time. Everyone I talked to just thoroughly enjoyed it. We had no complaints whatsoever.”
Pioneer Day included a pancake breakfast, a bake sale and lunch for purchase. Kellis estimated that the historical society made $1,400 to $1,500, but added that while the society can always use extra money, that’s not what the event is about.
“Back when we were planning the first one more than two years ago, we got to talking about all the little communities in the county, and how that at one time they were all self-sufficient towns for decades and decades and decades, and we knew people were really proud of those communities,” Kellis said. “So we started talking to people from those communities, added some artisans, the antique machinery club, a tour of the Scott House and things like the pancake breakfast and bake sale they we used to have. We brainstormed all those items, put them together, and it became Pioneer Day and that’s what we have today.”
Originally, Kellis said, Pioneer Day was planned to be an every other year event held on years when the historical society’s Tour of Homes, also held every other year, was not being held. But Pioneer Day has been successful enough that current plans are to hold it each year in August.
Kellis said no dates have been set for next year because the society tries to hold in weekends when there is not a Hillsboro High School home football game or scrimmage, since many attending football games use the Scott House area for parking. Next year’s HHS football schedule has not been announced yet.
This year’s Pioneer Day included historic-themed booths featuring the Hillsboro, Belfast, Buford, Pricetown, Marshall, Mowrystown, Sinking Spring and New Market communities, along with booths from the Highland County, Greenfield, Leesburg and Lynchburg historical societies. Two new attractions were an archery trailer and a performance by local magician Steve Fairs who also gave a history on magic.
“I think everybody really enjoyed themselves,” Kellis said.
The historical society’s Tour of Homes will be held Sunday, Sept. 26. Tickets are available at the society’s Highland House Museum and Warren Furniture in Hillsboro.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.