Pioneer Day brings Wirt County’s past back to life

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Blacksmith Rob Pitts, left, of Elizabeth, works on an item as Tyler Hardbarger, middle, adds air to fan the flames and Luke Hardbarger, right, watches.

ELIZABETH — Civil War era Wirt County was brought to life in the 21st Century during the 15th annual Wirt County Pioneer Day.

Saturday’s festival was held under sunny skies with temperature more like August after two years of rain and cold weather.

Carol Menefee, regent of the Elizabeth Beauchamp Chapter of the Daughters of the American Pioneers which organizes the annual event, said Wirt County Pioneer Day has taken place in all kinds of weather over the past 15 years.

“We had rain last year and cold and sleet the year before,” she said. “I’m excited to see people out and coming back.”

Menefee said the festival had 41 vendors signed up and the usual attractions such as the Civil War skirmish and the Ladies Tea were a part of Saturday’s activities.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Wanda Wayne, of Roane County, shows her basket weaving during the Wirt County Pioneer Day in Elizabeth.

Menefee said the purpose of the festival is to show how things were way back when.

“We like to revive a little bit of our history,” she said. “Mostly our museum is into preservation but when we can revive the history and get some of the information out to the younger people because they are the future and I’m afraid people don’t understand that.”

Crystal Hardbarger, of Elizabeth, said her sons enjoyed many of the exhibits at the festival.

“They enjoyed the old engines and the blacksmithing,” she said. “Our oldest is fascinated by how things work.”

Hardbarger said she came since some of her family are Civil War re-enactors.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Josiah Ferrell-McAbee, of Creston, tries his hand at painting a mask.

“It’s a great time,” she said. “We come to see them and to help celebrate our area’s history.”

Wanda Wayne, of Roane County, has been an exhibitor at Pioneer Day every year.

“I do more traditional baskets like the large egg baskets,” she said. “I only go to two festivals, this one and the Heritage Days festival in Roane County. I’ve done a lot of basket classes.”

Wayne said she enjoys working on traditional Appalachian crafts.

Anna Reno, of Creston, said her nephew, Josiah Ferrell-McAbee, enjoyed the painting the most during the festival.

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Karen Sims, of the Pisgah United Methodist Women, takes a turn at stirring apple butter at the Wirt County Pioneer Day in Elizabeth on Saturday.

“I love to come,” she said. “I haven’t been here for a couple of years. I come out to help support the community and to see what is out there.

“There is not much for the youth to do in this community so I’m grateful this is done every year.”

In addition to a Civil War skirmish Saturday afternoon in downtown Elizabeth, the Civil War re-enactors will continue their activities today. The Civil War camps open at 9 a.m. today with a battle taking place at 2 p.m. at the W.Va. 5/W.Va. 14 intersection.

The units schedule to participate in the weekend’s activities included: Jim Miracle, (Carlin’s Artillery Battery D (two cannons) from Parkersburg; Wirt County’s (19th VA Cavalry Co. A and17th VA Cavalry Co. F) and other infantry units; John Haddox’s (Western Virginia Artillery (cannon) from St. Marys; and John Van Horn, (Byrnes Battery, Co. D cannon) from McConnelsville.