Pioneer Day debuts in Oklahoma

The Ada Diamond K Kiwanis Club teaches kids about life in the 1800s. 

Story by Wendy Rose Gould

Cream churns into thick, whipped butter courtesy of Lucy the cow, children enjoy simple games, squabbling chickens scramble around a yard in front of a sturdy log cabin, and in the distance, music plays as square dancers step in unison. Nearby, cowboy poets spin tall tales and the scent of hearty food wafts from Dutch ovens as weavers weave and quilters quilt.  

It sounds like a day straight out of the 1800s, but this was the scene on October 15, 2022, in Ada, Oklahoma, as the Ada Diamond K Kiwanis Club hosted Pioneer Day.  

The inspiration: a local park that features two historical buildings ― a schoolhouse and log cabin — rarely open to the public. A member of Ada’s historical society also belongs to the Ada Kiwanis club. Together, the organizations came up with the idea to open both buildings for children to visit.  

“We wanted to educate kids in our area about what it was like to live in the 1800s and 1900s, when Oklahoma was set to become a state,” explains Brenda Adams, the Kiwanian who spearheaded the event.  

From there, plans for Pioneer Day blossomed as community members caught wind of the idea and offered their own set of skills and authentic props. Soon enough, a full-fledged plan was hatched, complete with experts eager to show children how to spin wool, wash laundry the old-fashioned way, shuck corn, churn butter and square dance. A local group of “cowboy balladeers” provided live music, the Ada Fire Department brought its horse-drawn fire wagon, and historic carriages and covered wagons were available for rides.   

“I’m telling you, it was so much fun,” Adams says. “We’d planned to end at 2 p.m., but there were kids at three in the afternoon still standing out there wanting to ride the carriage, milk the cow, make butter and wash laundry. They learned quite a bit and had fun doing it.”  

In addition to serving as an educational, fun-filled event, Pioneer Day netted the club two new members. It was such a success that the club plans to make it an annual event that spans two full days.

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