Pioneer Days Festival In Jefferson

 Pioneer Days Festival

When the Pioneer Days Festival gets started on September 4 with a parade, the streets of Jefferson may not be this crowded as the one pictured in the old photograph of the bygone days of the city,, but it will be a lot more fun.

Jefferson’s Opera House Theatre Players has put together a 3-day festival that will, hopefully, bring lots of visitors to the city on the long weekend of Labor Day.  Starting with a parade at 10 am the morning of Sept. 4th, the parade will be a parade of all pioneer-suited horseback riders to depict the

earlier days of old Jefferson which was founded in the 1840s along the Big Cypress River. The Players are currently seeking more horse-back riding groups and individuals that will participate in and be willing to dress in the garb of the pioneer settlers of that day.   A prize will be given to the entry that is judged the most authentic of the bunch. Board member Hollis Shadden is trail boss for the entries.

Also on tap for Saturday, is an Old Fashioned Street Dance, located on the brick covered streets of downtown Jefferson specifically Austin Street.

Everyone is invited to attend the dance that will feature entertainment by Sheila and the Caddo Kats Band of nearby Karnack..  The band will play for boot-scootin’ dancin’ from 6 to 8 pm on Austin Street between Polk Street and Walnut Street.  A prize will also be given here for the most authentic “cowboy or pioneer” outfit in the group of dancers.  Dance-manager is board member Joe Todaro.

Sunday, Sept. 5’s event will be centered on the First Annual Port Jefferson Dutch Oven Cooks, a group that dress in period costume and make tasty Vittles and Grub for hungry visitors that you can sample at no cost.  Also scheduled are several entertainers including Johnny RiverRat and Miss Ann Leslie, both singers of note who will perform either original songs or songs that recall the past pioneer days of early Jefferson. It is expected

that several square dance groups will demonstrate square dancing as members of the East Texas Square and Round Dance Association.

A very unusual bit of entertainment will occur at odd times during the 3-day event when new OHTP board member, Jim Blackburn, and friends re-create a true-life shootout that once happened in the wagon yard of downtown Jefferson.  The hombres will be dressed in cowboy gear and armed with authentic-looking guns and will stage the shootout complete with dialogue at least four times during the weekend event.

According to OHTP president, Marcia Thomas, the first two days of the Pioneer Days Festival is free for all to attend.  There will be no cost to participate in the Parade, the Street Dance or the Vittles and Grub Dutch Oven meal where samples will be served.  Individuals may also patronize the many restaurants and shops for drinks and souvenirs as well as ride the various amusement rides available during their free time.  There is also a drive-through 

safari ride available on the outskirts of town that will be open where exotic animals, including a Texas Longhorn Steer, can be seen.

Pioneer Days will culminate on Monday, September 6 with a performance by the famous singing instrumental group, the ‘Sons of the Pioneers” in the Visitor Building at 3 pm.  Tickets for the show may be purchased online at $35/pr for VIP tickets (only 20 of these first 2-row tickets are left) or a general seating ticket at $25/person.  They may also be purchased at The Willow Tree, 211 N Polk, in Jefferson.

For more information regarding the festival, please contact JeffersonTheatre@aol.com or call 903-665-8243 and leave message if no answer.

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