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Celebrate A Decade Of Free Family Fun At Pioneer Days

Festival Runs August 19-21 At Old Fort Harrod State Park

Mahabali Shera, the Indian Lion, a wrestler with Ohio Valley Wrestling, celebrates his victory during the 2021 Pioneer Days. OVW returns this year with even more wrasslin’ excitement.

April Ellis

Herald Staff

It’s been a decade since the Pioneer Days festival rebooted at Old Fort Harrod State Park and to mark the occasion organizers have added some new events, some new music, but still continue the tradition of families being able to enjoy a weekend of fun for very little money for the amount of memories made.

Watermelon eating contest from a previous festival.

“This year’s Pioneer Days will definitely not disappoint. There are many exciting events planned for all community members and their various interests; craft vendors, music, the colonial breakfast, wrestling, entertainment for children such as inflatables and a petting zoo, Sunday Worship, and much more,” said Sarah Steele, a Pioneer Days Committee member. “It has been a pleasure serving on the Pioneer Days Committee. I have been amazed by all those involved in making this event come together. This is the event of the summer that Mercer County residents will not want to miss!”

Pioneer Days runs Aug. 19-21, but for the 10th anniversary organizers have added a new sneak peak to the event Thursday, Aug. 18, with the beer tent opening at 5 p.m. and free lawn games going on, yoga with Sara Ledford Slone and at 8 p.m. the band State Law will be playing on the main stage. For those interested in history and want a more authentic Fort Harrod experience there will be a pioneer encampment with rustic tent camping and native flute playing. The Fort will also be discounting their admission prices so festival goers can see how the pioneers lived.

Also new for the anniversary is the colonial breakfast Saturday morning from 7:30-9 a.m. A traditional spread of eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage and bacon will be served for $8 per tickets and for a $12 ticket patrons can upgrade to include steak with their breakfast. Only a limited number of tickets will be sold and tickets won’t be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased at First Financial on Chiles Street, the Harrodsburg Herald on Broadway Street and the Mercer Chamber of Commerce on Main Street.

Rev. Ronnie Roberts of Ohio Valley Wrestling makes a dramatic entrance at last year’s Pioneer Days festival.

Breakfast can be enjoyed after running the Pioneer Days 5K run/walk at Campbellsville University or before heading out for the Kiwanis Quest, which is played like the Amazing Race in Mercer County. So anyone with a competitive spirit can flex their skills Saturday at Pioneer Days and then finish up the weekend with the kayak race at Salt River Park off of Mackville Road.

The music lineup is a little different at this year’s festival. Local favorites Larry Sanders and Borderline and the Blue Groove Jazz will still be hitting the main stage, but some new acts will also be playing, including Rolled in Stone, Savannah Deen Reeves and Elkhorn Pickers. DJ Michael Fly will be playing at Saturday’s street dance and the gospel group Joyful Souls will be performing after the church service Sunday at noon.

Under the Osage orange tree will still be the kids games, including the favorite pizza and watermelon eating contests, but new this year is the dunking booth and petting zoo, coloring and painting with the Arts Council of Mercer County and a chance to meet some of CU-Harrodsburg athletes and the Mercer County Fair queens. If eating too many snow cones give the kids a brain freeze, not to worry the fire eater will be there to warm things up.

The Big Jack Pearson Memorial Car show will start Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and run to 2 p.m. at the back of the fort where car enthusiast can browse the classic cars.

On Saturday night, it will be the stars and villains of the Ohio Valley Wrestling organization. There may be a suplex or two followed by an atomic elbow, but it’s all part of the fun of Pioneer Days, when kids and adults alike get to cheer on their favorite wrestler and boo the best bad guy.

The lawn at Old Fort Harrod will again be filled with food and retail vendors offering a little something for everyone. Seating is limited and lawn chairs are welcome for those who want to sit under the shade trees and enjoy the live music.

“We want Pioneer Days to feel like the best part of summer,” said Clay Slone, Mercer Chamber of Commerce President and committee chair for Pioneer Days. “We are proud the Chamber has put on the event for 10 years, but even more proud of the variety of events we have planned. We want families in Mercer County  plus those traveling in from around the state to feel like there is something they can enjoy with the majority of it for free.”

For the full schedule of events, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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