Great Bend’s third graders were given a taste of life in the olden days on Wednesday. More than 200 children spent the day at the Barton County Historical Society Village and Museum.
Beverly Komarek, executive director of the museum, said Pioneer Day is an annual event, with only third graders and adult volunteers invited.
“We bring in every volunteer we can find,” she said. Tricia Reiser, principal at Eisenhower Elementary School, also coordinates a team of adult sponsors to make sure the trip is a safe and pleasant one.
Third graders especially enjoy hands-on education, so some of their favorite activities at Pioneer Day include washing clothes in a hand-operated washing machine. Volunteer Rita Brack showed them how to agitate the water and then run the wet clothing through a wringer. Each third grader washed an item, then took his or her laundry to a clothesline where Yvonne Hokr helped to hang the item up to dry, using wooden clothespins.
“The children really like to do these things,” Komarek said.
Inside the historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on the village grounds, students sat in pews and sang songs like “Peace Like a River.”
Inside the Red Barn, children sat on benches as Joe Boley showed them handy gadgets that pre-dated electricity, such as a cherry pitter and an apple corer.
But none of the children had to sit still for long. There were old-fashioned games, such as tug of war or gunny sack races. Another popular attraction at the village is the “jail,” which is more of a jungle gym and photo prop than a true historic artifact.
The historical village has its share of authentic buildings, including an AT&SF Railroad Depot from Belpre and a one-room school house from School District No. 50, which was originally located about 3.5 miles south of the village.
Komarek said Pioneer Day helps children appreciate their heritage. One day, she added, the preservation of that heritage will be in their hands.