Photo/Tammy Curtis, 2019 event
An exhibitor at the 2019 Hardy Homesteaders Day dressed in period attire assists children with the old way of washing clothing, on a wash board. Children enjoyed the demonstration, but many said they were glad their parents had modern day washing machines because the scrubbing was hard work.
By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
Where else can you leave the hustle and bustle of a busy life-style behind and get a glimpse into the past, a time before we lived in a “neee it now” society? For one-day each year a group of dedicated people who have worked all year, do just that. The Hardy Homesteader’s Day organizers have a passion for the past, and during the event, they strive to bring it to life. For the 30th year, the past will come alive along the banks of the Spring River in Loberg Park in Hardy on Sept. 24
The event has taken a two year hiatus due to Covid and changing of leadership. Subsequently coordinators of the original Homesteaders Day contacted the Hardy History Association (HHA) to continue the popular annual event and arrangements were made to pass the torch. The event actually began 32 years ago when the original organizers began working with Bob Zeiger as a plan to bring back the way of life they and their parents knew as children. The first year there were only six or seven participants and people brought their teams of mules and allowed them to do plowing demonstrations. They also had the hay cut, in the old Pecan Grove area east of Hardy and had an old baler for hors-es to demonstrate. It has continued to grow each year. The group sets the scene much like that of stepping back in time to an old frontier town. From a real wood cook stove in a pioneer type kitchen to a candy shop, soap maker, school house, blacksmith, saloon and even an undertaker, visitors are transported back to a much simpler time with sights, sounds and smells of a bygone era. The smells of a wood stove and open fire cooking in several of the chuck wagon kitchens where demonstrators offer samples of their food welcomes visitors. The smells of beans, hoe cakes, homemade bread, cobblers and any other array of food cooked on the fire can be sampled as visitors walk throughout the living educational exhibits offered at Hardy Homesteader’s Day. The event is one for young and old alike. Children enjoy trying their hand at the candle making exhibit, one that has been a favorite for many years. Those attending often dress in pioneer apparel and fit nicely into the scenes. Toe sack and terrapin races are also a favorite of the children as well as petting some of the goats that are on scene to make the event even more realistic.
While times were slower in the pioneer days, children’s lives were harder. There was much more responsibility placed on children in those days. Since today’s children, and even many adults, may not have experienced cleaning laundry on a wringer washer or wash board, those exhibits are hands-on favorites of both young and old alike.
To assist with the transition, the extensive inventory of equipment and supplies was donated to the Hardy History Association (HHA) Volunteers were also needed so the HHA conducted community meetings and people were found to help create the 2022 event. Crystal and Robert Gray became the new program coordinators and worked diligently conducting monthly planning meetings and finding helpers throughout the community.
Hardy Homesteaders Day 2022 will be similar to previous Homesteader Days with demonstrations, music, and free samples at Loberg Park. This year musical performances will also be on Main Street throughout the day and at the large gazebo in Loberg Park at the end of the day.
A General Store will be set up in town at Spring River Stonehouse Inn at 108 West Main Street where unique souvenir and gift items can be purchased along with raffle tickets for a quilt, a Golden Boy rifle, and a night’s stay at the Stonehouse Inn. Also registration for the costume contest will be at the General Store along with voting ballots. Attendees may vote for three in each category: ladies, gentlemen, and children. Store owners will also be participating in the costume contest so check out what they are wearing. The winners will be announced at 2:30 p.m. at Loberg Park Stage and at the General Store. Be sure to register at General Store for other prizes to be given to a few lucky winners throughout the day.
The group strives to keep the country heritage, on which rural Arkansans derive their roots, alive and well, even if it is just once a year. The blacksmithing demonstrations and the cornmeal grinding are among the adult’s favorites. Besides food, exhibits and a time to escape the daily grind, there is also music. The amount of work that goes into the set-up is something anyone can appreciate. It is as if a small old-time town sprouts up overnight.
Everything in the Homesteader’s Day town is for educational and demonstration purposes and is free to the public. Donation jars are placed at exhibits to help defray costs but attendees are not obligated to pay for anything, including entry.
To fund the event, the group of volunteers begins selling ads for their poster in June. The money helps keep the event free and provides a fund for incidentals and allows the strictly volunteer group to purchase antiques and other items for their displays and materials for the event each year. They store the items all year and begin the set up the day before the event. This is the reason they continue to put the event on each year. The group is also very appreciative of the local businesses who support them and make the event possible each year. They also have in kind help that means a lot to the group.
There is always entertainment through-out the day that lends to the country feel of stepping back in time. Many appear dressed in pioneer era attire. With fall weather in full swing, and cooler temperatures predicted for Homesteader’s Day, the event is a perfect time for families to step back in time and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Hardy. The event begins at 9 a.m. . in Loberg Park in Hardy.
9 – 11 a.m.Mike McLoud at Dr. Thompson Park and Pat Dunlap at General Store
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Hardy Junction Music Hall Band at Loberg Park Stage
10 a.m.- noon The Duncan’s @ Zen & Zeus/Spring & Main
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Bobbie Saxton @ Dr. Thompson Park
12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Osage Water Band @ Loberg Park Stage
1 – 3:00 p.m. The McMickle Brothers @ Zen & Zeus/Spring & Main
4 p.m. Tommy Garner & Harvey Jett @ Big Gazebo in Loberg Park