By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
This year’s Harvestfest drew folks from as far away as France, Poland, Ukraine, and the USA. Not to mention our friends from Newmarket and Toronto.
Locals also showed up in droves; in total, nearly 1,000 people strolled through the village on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And a record was set for the number of little ones joining the harvest festival fun!
“Pioneer Village is a huge Georgina jewel,” said Karen Wolfe, a founding member of the Georgina Historical Society, which hosts the family event each year to celebrate the arrival of autumn.
“It warms my heart to see so many local families exploring our history.”
“This year, we’ve also welcomed many newcomers to Georgina, and it’s great that they come and discover a bit about the community they’ve joined.”
Visitors could soak up knowledge by chatting with volunteers like Thelma Sellers.
“I’ve absorbed all the local history from my husband, who was born and raised in Jackson’s Point, and never left,” recalls Sellers.
“He’s a living history book, and I’m inspired by him to share these stories.”
Guests also gathered around Hessel Pape to hear stories from his childhood.
“Back in the 1950s, living in that Smallwood cabin felt like stepping into a time machine to 1875, when the cabin was built,” Pape said.
“No water, no electricity; and how about braving the outhouse in winter? Let’s just say it was a chilling adventure!”
Krista Kroon-Spick from Keswick brought her daughter Lily to get a taste of pioneer life.
“Even though we’ve been in Keswick for almost 3 years, we’d never ventured here before,” she said.
“I’m genuinely taken aback by the beauty around us and the warm hospitality.”
Tom Glover, whose family has been part of the Georgina community since 1845, and who was one of the friendly faces welcoming guests at the gate, shared his observations.
“I noticed this year that many more newcomers to Georgina, including new Canadians, joined us today,” he said.
“I’m delighted they’re exploring our treasure and experiencing its warm, friendly charm.”
One of the newcomers, Anna and Peter Jasniewski, treated their visitor from Poland, Stanislawa Hardej, to an immersive Canadian experience at the Pioneer Village.
She excitedly exclaimed, “I’m loving it! I feel like I’ve stepped right into a Western movie. This place reminds me of the towns I’ve seen in films about the Wild West.”
The star of the show was a bright orange caboose which made its grand debut last year after being lovingly renovated by the GHS members.
Our enthusiastic conductor for the day, Paul Brady, couldn’t help but notice, “This morning alone, we had about 100 guests hopping aboard. And those kids! They’ve got a million questions. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that back then, we communicated with hand signals, not the Internet.”
Almost 40 volunteers breathed life into the village for the day, musicians added a fantastic dose of entertainment, children played pioneer games, and vendors treated us to an array of crafted goodies. A new record for good times was set. See you again next fall for another round of fun!
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