Demo Road Show to give Pioneer Festival fans an up-close look at several specialties

Steve McPhail takes on the character of Johnny (Chapman) Appleseed as he tells a story during the 2011 Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival. McPhail will return to this year’s festival on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Steve McPhail takes on the character of Johnny (Chapman) Appleseed as he tells a story during the 2011 Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival. McPhail will return to this year’s festival on Saturday, Sept. 22. TAB file photo.

Re-enactors and crafters at this year's Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival on Sept. 22 and 23 will give visitors an up-close look at their specialties in The Demo Road Show, a new addition to the 37-year-old festival.

The idea, festival Chairman Jennifer Scalf explains, is to give visitors a chance to gain a more in-depth understanding of what they're seeing - and to give the festival participants some time in the limelight.

"We talked about having a demonstration tent, having some of our participants go there, bring their things and put on a demonstration," Scalf explains.

Some of the participants, though, would have a difficult time picking up and moving, so festival organizers hit on the idea of a road show.

A baker's dozen of festival participants will present programs at specific times and places throughout the weekend, some demonstrating crafts such as making soap or crocheting snowflakes; others telling the story of prehistoric Huntington County residents or the folk tales brought over from Germany.

A complete listing of Demo Road Show programs is included in the program handed out at the festival gates and available in advance online at

Festival visitors will be alerted to Demo Road Show programs by a flower-filled wooden wheelbarrow bearing "The Demo Road Show" label, which will be wheeled to each demonstration site at the scheduled time.

Also new this year is an activity for children offered by students from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. Sadie Howald, a student from Huntington, is coordinating the activity, which will allow children to examine fossils - and paint pet rocks.

The fiddle contest will return on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 2:45 p.m.

Each contestant will play three fiddle tunes, with one or two back-ups playing acoustical instruments. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three fiddlers.
Fiddlers can sign up in advance by emailing They may also sign up the day of the contest.

The stage will also feature several other performers throughout the weekend.

Performing on Saturday are Huntington musicians Jamie and Katie Olinger; the Applejack Kloggers, an area dance group; the Roanoke Rounders, a local group performing old-time music; and the Tie Hackers String Band, of Goshen. Sunday's stage shows include Whitley County musician Melvin Mullins and the Roanoke Rounders.

Two Huntington North High School groups, the Varsity Singers and Masque & Gavel, will entertain throughout the weekend.

The show choir's concert of Civil War-era music will be presented in a "saloon," where festival-goers can also get a cold bottle of root beer.

Masque & Gavel, under the direction of HNHS teacher Ruth Reed, is offering its traditional melodrama with a twist - the narrators have all the dialogue, while the actors are limited to groans, giggles, growls and, in the case of the heroine, a very sweet "awwwww." As always, the story ends with the hero and heroine reunited and the villain in handcuffs.

Taylor Imel, Ava Schulte, Kiersten Shortridge and Ashley Landon are the narrators for "Curses! Foiled Again!" Casey Richman and Danny Taylor are the heroine and hero of the story, while Nathan Geideman will be looking for "boos" as the villain.

Other highlights of the festival include an exhibition of ladies' sidesaddle riding, military drills and demonstrations of pioneer skills such as sheep shearing, butter churning and cream separating.

Musicians, a storyteller and a magician will stroll the park, and vintage engines, tractors and motorcars will be on display. Visitors can shop in the crafts, antiques and farmers' market areas or visit the re-enactors in the encampment, Pioneer Village or Olde Towne. A full array of food, some cooked over open fires, will be available.

Festival hours are Saturday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
John M. Backes, pastor of Bethel Assembly of God, will lead a nondenominational old-time worship service Sunday at 9 a.m.

Admission is charged, but free parking is provided. Pets, bicycles, skateboards, golf carts and roller skates are not allowed on the grounds. Smoking is prohibited.

Festival sponsors are the Huntington County Junior Historical Society, Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi and Friends of the Festival. Proceeds are used to benefit local charities and historic preservation project.

A complete festival schedule and additional information is available online at