Pioneer Days attracts thousands to High Springs

The event, which continues today, celebrates the city's history.


Amy Martin, a second-grade teacher at Fort White Elementary, looks at her 2-year-old pet turkey, named Big Bird, at her basket weaving and crochet booth on Saturday at Pioneer Days in High Springs. "(Big Bird) loves the fiddle," Martin said. "He gets all happy, his waddle turns red, and his face turns purple." Pioneer Days in downtown High Springs continues today.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, May 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 10:17 p.m.

Facts

FESTIVAL:

Arts and crafts, carnival food available
FYI: If you go

  • WHAT: Pioneer Days
  • WHERE: Downtown High Springs
  • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Seven-year-old Jordan Davis crouches down with several other youngsters Saturday petting and feeding popcorn to Big Bird, a 20-pound domesticated turkey.
    "It feels just like skin," said Jordan as he rubbed the waddle hanging from the bird's beak.
    Amy Martin, the turkey's owner, kept Big Bird close with a rope tethered to her wrist.
    "He loves popcorn and fiddle music," said Martin, an elementary school teacher who said she and Big Bird will be out again today.
    Martin and Davis were among 15,000 people who turned out Saturday for Pioneer Days in High Springs, said Constance Heuss, one of the event organizers. She said she expects as many as 10,000 people to pour into the streets today to participate in the celebration of the city's history, thanks to more advertising this year.
    The event, which features a walking tour of historic homes and businesses in downtown High Springs, began more than 20 years ago and was originally called the Tobacco Festival, in honor of one of the area's important crops.
    Today, the festival includes more than 130 vendors that line city streets selling arts and crafts, carnival food and High Springs specialties, like buttered corn on the cob. For the younger patrons, there is the Kids Corral with pony rides, a petting zoo, an obstacle course and more.
    And twice a day, 14 actors perform mock shoot-outs along the town's railroad tracks.
    Many festivalgoers and town people dress in Civil War or turn-of-the-century costumes with women in bonnets and flowing dresses and men in felt hats and neckerchiefs.
    Old time spinners, blacksmiths and basket weavers can also be seen practicing their craft amidst the sounds of strolling musicians Ed and Geraldine Berbaum, who play hundred-year-old hoedowns in four shows throughout the day and travel around Florida in a motor home eight months out of the year.
    The Berbaums left teaching and banking careers more than 25 years ago to become full-time minstrels.
    "We have no regrets," said Geraldine Berbaum. "When we motivate people to listen to live music and consider learning an instrument themselves, we know we made the right choice."

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