27th Annual Homesteader’s Day organizers invite visitors to event in Hardy! Oct. 7th
News Release from Spring River Chronicle:
Where else can you leave the hustle and bustle of a busy lifestyle behind and get a glimpse into the past, a time before we lived in an instant society? For one-day each year a group of dedicated people who have worked all year, do just that. The Hardy Homesteader’s Day organizers have a passion for the past, and during the event, they strive to bring it to life. For the 27th year, the past will come alive in the autumn splendor along the banks of the Spring River in Loberg Park in Hardy on Oct. 7.
Event organizers Roger Stark and Doris Rose look forward to the event every year. While the group has no affiliation with any organization, which is typical of community events, the group simply shares a love for not only the area but the way things used to be. The pair find it as important to share this way of life with the younger generation as it is to relive the glory days for fun and educational purposes each year. The two have worked to bring Homesteader’s Day to Hardy for 27 years. They began working with Bob Zeiger as a plan to bring back the way of life they and their parents knew as children. The first year there were only six or seven participants and people brought their teams of mules and allowed them to do plowing demonstrations. They also had the hay cut, in the old Pecan Grove area east of Hardy had an old baler for horses to demonstrate. It has continued to grow each year. The group sets the scene much like that of a stepping back in time to an old frontier town. From a real wood cook stove in a pioneer type kitchen to a candy shop, soap maker, school house, blacksmith, saloon and even an undertaker, visitors are transported back to a much simpler time with sights, sounds and smells of a bygone era
The smells of wood stove and open fire cooking in several of the chuck wagon kitchens where demonstrators offer samples of their food welcomes visitors. The smells of beans, hoe cakes, homemade bread, cobblers and any other array of food cooked on the fire can be sampled as visitors walk throughout the living educational exhibits offered at Hardy Homesteader’s Day.
The event is one for young and old alike. Children enjoy trying their hand at the candle making exhibit, one that has been a favorite for many years. Those attending often dress in pioneer apparel and fit nicely into the scenes. Toe sack and terrapin races are also a favorite of the children as well as petting some of the goats that are on scene to make the event even more realistic. While times were slower in the pioneer days, children’s lives were harder. There was much more responsibility placed on children in those days. Since today’s children, and even many adults, may not have experienced cleaning laundry on a wringer washer or wash board, those exhibits are hands-on favorites of both young and old alike.
Other exhibits include a spinning wheel, thread making and weaving demonstration, lye soap making and the open fire branding exhibit is also a favorite that gives a free take home example.
The group strives to keep the country heritage alive and they even make homemade butter a head of time to smear on top the hot hoe cakes that are always a crowd favorite. Sarsaparilla tea and lemonade are also crowd staples at the event. The children always love the rag dolls made by Stark’s wife, Brenda. “I heard sheets ripping all year long,” Stark said of the approximately 300 rag dolls his wife gave away at last year’s event.
The blacksmithing demonstrations and the cornmeal grinding are among the adult’s favorites. This year the Homesteaders’ Day group has a new exhibit. “We have a new guy this year who is going to split wood shingles,” Stark said. Besides food, exhibits and a time to escape the daily grind, there is also music, steer roping for kids on steer head dummies, as well as wagon rides. Rose and Stark have been overwhelmed by the growth of the event each year. She said ideally, they would love to have a piece of land for them construct real log cabins and barns, to help further establish the old homesteader lifestyle and provide more exhibits and educational opportunities for the area.
The amount of work that goes into the set-up is something anyone can see. It is like a small old-time town sprouts up overnight. Both Rose and Stark said Bob Gotte brings the inmates from the Sharp County Jail in and he and the group set up the event. “He is great. We couldn’t do it without him,” Rose said.
Besides the work that goes into planning and orchestrating the large event that attracts hundreds of people both in and out of state each year, the group also works on a quilt. Rose and a group she calls the “Homesteader’s ladies” meet for lunch on Wednesdays all year and make a quilt that is also given away in a drawing at Homesteader’s Day each year. Attendees can register for the beautiful quilt and the winner will be contacted and does not need to be present to win. Everything in the Homesteader’s Day town is for educational and demonstration purposes and is free to the public. Donation jars are placed at exhibits to help defray costs but attendees are not obligated to pay for anything, including entry. The group also churns fresh butter ahead of time to compliment the hot hoe cakes that are always a crowd pleaser. To fund the event, the group of volunteers begins selling ads for their poster in June. The money helps keep the event free and provides a fund for incidentals and allows the strictly volunteer group to purchase antiques and other items for their displays and materials for the event each year. They store the items all year and begin the set up the day before the event.
There is always entertainment throughout the day that lends to the country feel of stepping back in time. With fall weather in full swing, and cooler temperatures predicted for Homesteader’s Day, the event is a perfect time for families to step back in time and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Hardy.
Rose and Stark, who are long time Hardy residents, as are most other members, said they do this because they love the community. This is the reason they continue to put the event on each year. Both Stark and Rose are very appreciative of the local businesses who support them and make the event possible each year. They also have in kind help that means a lot to the group.. People from near and far come for Homesteaders Day, so bring a lawn chair and spend the day. The event begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m. in Loberg Park in Hardy.
Ginger Smith joined OGTC in 2014 as a volunteer, and has lived in this area since 1972 when she moved to be near her parents, the late Doss and Vivian Burgess. Her late father was Independence County Appraiser and any time family, whether kids or grand kids, came to visit for even a short time, he would take them to A.D. Hill’s grocery store, and get them a soda pop and candy bar, see the talking bird there, and end up “checking out the great White River.” All the kids and grands have played on the banks there, picnicked, and played on the old train. Ginger is adamant, since she moved to Batesville, there is just no other place to raise a family. Her love for the area and desire to help promote it in her professional capacity led her to seek volunteering, and Charlie Morris, whom she met when she was a typesetter at the Daily Guard Newspaper, put her in touch with Cathy Drew, Executor Director of OGTC. She has been on board since then and says she has loved everything she has done and is proud to represent North Central Arkansas.
The last 20 years of her employment she worked for the late County Judge David Wyatt, West Elementary School Principal Jerry Harris, and Circuit Clerk Claudia Nobles and Judge John Kemp. At the Guard Office she says she made friends for a life time, and then the West Elementary teachers, students, and their families grew close to her forever. Her last job she was hired in a newly created position to collect felony fines and restitution. She was so proud that after three years she more than tripled the annual revenues that she retired! Her part-time retirement job was with the ortho docs, Drs. Allen and Angel where she also met many people from all over the area, and made another set of new friends! She is a published writer and has also written feature articles for the Batesville Guard TV Guide and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
She has a daughter, Misty Long Sparks, son-in-law Dloyd Sparks, and three grands, Dalton Lee, Victoria Lynn and Anna Rose, who own her heart, and three more heartbeat grands, Nico and Corbin of Washington, and a late granddaughter, Ginger Savannah. Her late husband, Ken Smith, was the Batesville Postmaster.
Totally retired now, Ginger offers her time and writing abilities to OGTC as she travels around the state and visits with so many nice folks, writes reviews, and tries to be a worthy representative for Ozark Gateway Tourism. She is a people person who really cares for all God has blessed us with in our beautiful state of Arkansas in the United States of America.