The Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival, a celebration of Hoosier life in the mid-1800s, was founded in 1976 by Jean Gernand, who taught home economics and family living at Huntington North High School. She wanted a festival that celebrated the heritage of her community. The festival, initially only one day long, was held outside the high schooll for the first three years.
Gernand had the help of Bob Diffenbaugh, a science teacher, Mary Margaret Kelsey, a home economics teacher, and community volunteer Mary Brooks to get things started. Mary Brooks' family — including husband Garl, his brother Denver Brooks, and Denver's wife Benita Brooks — put together the Pioneer Village, now known as Brooks' Pioneer Village.
As the festival grew, Gernand asked the community for help. Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi Sorority stepped in to help co-chair the event with Huntington County Junior Historical Society. Phi Chapter of Psi Iota Xi now co-sponsors the festival with a community group, Friends of the Festival.
In 1979, the festival was moved to Hier's Park to accommodate the growth of the event. A second day was added to the festival in 1982. The festival is held each year on the fourth full weekend of September at Hier's Park, 547 S. Briant St., Huntington, Indiana, and the adjoining Huntington County Fairgrounds.
Proceeds from the festival are used to support local charities and historic preservation projects. The festival hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An old-time worship service is offered at 9 a.m. Sunday before the festival opens. A full program is offered, rain or shine. We prefer the shine, though! Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for students (includes college students with an ID); 5 and younger are free. Tickets are sold at the entrance gates. Ample free parking is available adjacent to the festival grounds. In the interest of safety, no pets, bicycles, skateboards, or roller skates are allowed on the festival grounds. At the request of the state fire marshal, no smoking is allowed on the festival grounds. Thank you for visiting our website. We look forward to visiting with you in person at the festival each year.
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