Will and Harry go to the Huntington Pioneer Festival by Harrison Snyder and Will O’Brien
It’s a humbling experience to be dressed in a War of 1812 Army uniform and not be the weirdest sight to be seen. Tractors on see-saws, sugar with a side of fried dough, poorly painted folk art and, as always, a Confederate flag for all to see in the most southern pride northern state, Indiana. Yes, the Huntington Pioneer Days is an odd sight, but it has its charms. Reminders of a simpler time, a time before Roe V. Wade and the Civil Rights Act. A truly “American” time, surrounds you.
In the simple act of walking down one of the numerous avenues that dissects Pioneer Days, one can easily be distracted by a man standing on top of a giant, orange, deafening, tree-splitting saw that can cut entire oak stumps in half. Is it antique? Is it a marvel of recent engineering? No, oh no, it is simply a giant saw from about 1993 in the middle of a field, and by golly does it ever have a captivated audience. In addition to enormous saw blades near children, one might be surprised to see an Abraham Lincoln reenactor, who looks more like a taller, lankier Steve Buscemi sporting an “distinct” smelling polyester vest. Tucked away as far from the general crowd as possible, it’d be easy to miss the vile abolitionist, who on January 1st, 1863, really sucked the fun out of the locals’ “American Dream.” Even though we’re still in Northern Indiana.
Being reenactors ourselves, we see our fair share of the misinformed general public, but Huntington really knocked us out of the county park. Our most earnest goal as reenactors is to teach the local history through physical representations. So, when someone tells us that we are Civil War reenactors, when in reality we are 1812 reenactors, we begin to wonder how much force it would take for our dulled bayonets to puncture a Monster energy drink t-shirt square in the small print health warning. The exchange went a little something like this:
“So, you boys are Civil War reenactors, right?”
“No, War of 1812.”
“Yeah, so Civil War.”
“No, the war of 1812 was in 1812 and the Civil War was in 1861. So about 50 years earlier than that.”
“Yep, like I thought. Civil War.”
Much to the surprise of this Pioneer Days-goer, America has in fact fought in more wars than the Civil War and WWII.
Regardless of its quirks, Huntington has a certain misplaced southern pride sort of charm. When the Confederate flag serves as a backdrop to the entertainment stage, who cares if you have the your own Stars and Bars waving proudly from your 2004 Ford F-350 Super Duty? Huntington is truly a gem of northern Indiana, with a strong southern pride and a stronger rebel spirit.
Photo credits to Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival.