Pioneer Christmas to offer festive activities in Franklinton

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Washington Parish Fairgrounds will come to life Saturday, Dec. 1-2 for Pioneer Christmas Weekend, the Varnado Store Museum’s Christmas Festival and Franklinton Chamber of Commerce-sponsored activities.

Following a Pioneer Christmas Parade Dec. 1 at 10 a.m., Mile Branch Settlement will open from noon until 5 p.m. and will be available to visitors on the same hours Dec. 2.

A variety of activities are on the agenda, including period historical demonstrations throughout the weekend and cooking contests on Saturday. On both days, attendees can stroll through the cabins, which will be adorned with decorations accurate to the 1800s and early 1900s time period, and view arts and crafts and antiques and enjoy hot apple cider, hot roasted peanuts, crackings, sassafras tea, syrup and cornmeal.

The ever-popular Bankston General Store will also be open, with items like hoop cheese and crackers and jellies available for purchase.

Meanwhile, the Varnado Store Museum will host its Christmas Festival in the Commercial Building from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday. The event will feature arts and crafts booths, the opportunity to visit and take pictures with Santa Claus, entertainment by groups and individuals, and concessions booths. Additionally, a raffle for a professionally decorated Christmas tree and a gift raffle featuring 20 opportunities to win will take place.

The festive weekend will kick off that Saturday with the fourth annual Franklinton Chamber of Commerce 5K Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

The race will begin 8 a.m., with participants following a course that starts and ends at the fairground’s main stage. The first-place overall male and female runners will be awarded a trophy, and the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each of seven age groups will receive a medallion.

Racers can pre-register for $15 by submitting a completed registration form by Nov. 29. Forms are available at the Franklinton Chamber of Commerce office or via its website at Executive Director Linda Crain also emailed the form as an attachment to all members of the Chamber.

Race-day registration will also take place from 7 a.m. until 7:45 a.m., with the entry fee increasing to $20.

There was snow the first time the race was held, and there were just a few participants, Crain said. However, the event has grown each year since, she said.

For more information about the 5K, contact Crain at 839-5822 or event chairman Michelle Amacker at 516-0466.

The other big attraction sponsored by the Chamber will the Antique Car and Truck Show. Held for the first time in 2010, the show got its start in the parking lot of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office. Last year, in what Crain said was a successful move, the event expanded to the fairgrounds.

“We kind of didn’t know what to expect, but we had about 50 cars last year,” she said.

Local car enthusiast Rick Fizmorris assists in organizing the event, Crain said. After that first show in the parking lot, antique car owners gave suggestions about how to build up the event, and many have been handing out flyers promoting it at various car shows, she said. The car show is also advertised on car show websites to attract more participation, she said.

Advance registration is not required to take part in the show, Crain said. Antique car and truck owners need only show up on the morning of the show and pay the $20 registration fee. The show is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., but Crain anticipates those showing will arrive at the fairgrounds much earlier to set up, many by 7 a.m.

A fun-filled day of family-friendly activities is in store for those who visit the fairgrounds on Dec. 1, Crain said.

“It’s just kind of a family thing: Bring all the kids, do the race, go to Mile Branch, let them have their pictures taken with Santa, and so on,” she said.

The Chamber began its Christmas events in an effort to draw more visitors to the fairgrounds for Pioneer Christmas, Crain said.

“We started all of these things just to get people to come into Mile Branch, because people would say, ‘Oh, I was coming to Mile Branch, but I got sidetracked with something else,’” she said. “We want to have enough activities at Mile Branch that people will come for that.”