Pioneer Days Festival Big Success
Jefferson’s Opera House Theatre Players pulled off a fantastic weekend
with the first annual Pioneer Days Festival event Sept .4-6.
Featured to kick off the 3-day Labor Day weekend for the public, was a parade that
had wagons, horseback riders, and walkers, all in costume of the pioneer days
(or close to it) as that marched in the sun on one of the hottest days of the
summer through the streets of downtown. Winning the trophy and a gift certificate
from the Jefferson Nail and Spa was Evelyn Rene Matthews of Texarkana, Arkansas
dressed as an early Texas pioneer cowgirl. Other notables were Shawn and Demetrious
Thurman in two separate wagons with passengers and a horse-back rider from Lodi,
Larry Bearden & family on horseback; the Bayou Trailblazers; walker Howard Blatch;
and Jane Maddix, Sara Davis, Ann Leslie, and her granddaughter, Isabella.
Following the parade, a crowd gathered at 11:30 am for the re-enactment of one of
the town’s most infamous gunfights between the then Sheriff Will S. Terry and his
Deputy, Charlie Proctor. It was held in the original location of the incident which
is the site of the old wagon yard from the days of the 1800s to the early 1900s.
KTAL-TV, Ch. 6 of Shreveport videoed the shoot-out and interviewed a number
of audience members. The story aired later that night during the stations 10 pm
At Noon, a singing pioneer in the person of Ann Leslie entertained in the Gazebo
at the park in downtown using her repertoire of original & old songs including “Home On
The Range”, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, and “Comin ‘Round the Mountain”.
At 6 pm, a western street dance was held on the east end of Austin Street until 8pm.
The band, Sheila and the Caddo Kats, played for the two-hour dance and an award
was presented to the group by the Opera House Theatre Players president, Marcia
Thomas, as the “Rising Star Award” for their exciting career accomplishments,
The thespian groups new season will begin their 33rd year of operation. The band
is featured in the new brochure produced by the Players and is currently being
On Sunday, a Barbeque Cook-Out with Entertainment was held on the riverfront
area that is owned and maintained by the Collins Institute. The free food was
given to those who wandered up from the downtown area and entertainment
was provided by Johnny Riverrat, Ann Leslie and Riley Cox.
To complete the festival, a concert was given to a crowd of over 200 persons in
the Visitor Building. Audience members gathered as early as 3 pm to get
their seats for a 2-hr concert by the internationally famous Sons of the
Pioneers. Visitors from as far away as Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas
and other states were obviously thrilled to get to hear one of the most
famous and favorite old-time cowboy singing groups in the world. A
member of the group, Ken Larttimore of Marshall, welcomed all his Marshall
friends to the show and provided laughs as he told a few jokes about his
life at Marshall High School as a teacher of string instruments.
According to theatre board members, the Players were so pleased with
the outcome of this first attempt that they are already thinking of what
they can put together for next year’s Pioneer Days weekend which will
occur in September of 2022. Anyone wishing to join the group and work
with them on the idea as well as support the theatre organization may
do so by filling out the information on the brochure and submitting a
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