High Springs celebrates its roots with annual event

The annual Pioneer Days festival in High Springs returns Saturday and Sunday with a Heritage Village, arts and crafts, food, re-enactments and more. (Courtesy of the High Springs Chamber of Commerce)

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 1:57 p.m.

High Springs will go back in time starting Saturday.


37th annual Pioneer Days

What: Two-day heritage festival with a Heritage Village, arts and crafts, re-enactments and more
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Downtown High Springs
Admission: Free
Info: 386-454-3120, www.highsprings.com

The Pioneer Days Festival is an annual, two-day event highlighting the city’s pioneer era. It returns Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event, which is sponsored by the High Springs Chamber of Commerce, is in its 37th year and will feature art vendors, food, a costume contest for children, shoot-out re-enactments, live music and more.

This year’s festival also includes a business expo for local businesses and a focus on High Springs’ railroads past.

Dot Harvey, the communication manager for the High Springs Chamber of Commerce, said the event allows visitors to learn more about the area.

“We just have a lot of rich history,” she said. “The Pioneer Days is really meant to highlight that for everybody so they can really get to know our town and our community.”

Between 3,000 to 5,000 people are expected to attend over the weekend, she said.

“We have a lot of people that come from out of town. It’s something people really look forward to,” Harvey said.

She said she thinks it’s a perfect event for people who want to have a fun time and enjoy themselves.

“It’s a great chance to get a little bit of history, to eat some great festival food, to just get a chance to stroll around and relax,” she said.

She said High Springs was an important rail center in the early 20th century, and the event’s focus on railroad history is something new.

“We sort of forget to think about our historical background,” she said. “I’m really glad this year we’re emphasizing this was once a major railroad community, and we’re proud of that.”

Donna Mogler, the immediate past president of the Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks the event is a large attraction because it lets people experience High Springs in an enjoyable way.

“Our visitors get to enjoy the festival, visit all our downtown shops and see what High Springs has to offer,” she said. “It’s a great weekend to bring your family out and enjoy our good nature.”

High Springs resident Jeanette Pekala has attended the Pioneer Days Festival for eight years. She found out about the event from a friend, and she’s gone every year since.

“It’s just a different sort of festival. It involves the history of the area,” she said.

Pekala said she enjoys the shoot-out re-enactments, crafts, vendors and live entertainment. She plans to bring her young children to this year’s event.

“They’ve been going since they were babies,” she said. “They just love it.”

Pekala said she’s interested in history, and the focus on the city’s past is something she enjoys.

“High Springs has come a long way,” she said. “It’s great to see where it came from.”

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