Pioneer Corn Roast
Lang Pioneer Village

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Labour Day...
I always have mixed emotions about Labour Day! As a kid, it meant that we would have to leave the fun of our cottage and go home to get ready for school. Now, later in life, it means that the hot sunny weather will start to transform into cooler weather. I could let it get me down, but the cooler weather brings fall and all the fall colours and warm autumn smells. So, I guess my thoughts are bitter sweet! It was these thoughts in mind, that I traveled to Lang Pioneer Village to visit their Pioneer Corn Roast. To me, the corn roast signalled the transition of seasons. I had never been to the Lang Pioneer Village’s Corn Roast so this was going to be a new experience for me. Judi was already at the Village. She was volunteering for the day. When I left Cobourg, I looked at the outside temperature gauge in my car. It read 11°C! Burr! There were dark clouds covering the sky. As I drove northward the temperature started to rise and blue skies started to peak through the cloud cover. This phenomenon continued all the way to the Village. When I finally arrived, the sun was shinning and it was 17°C. I discarded my heavy coat!

Great Expectations...
Even though I had been to Lang Pioneer Village on a number of occasions, I didn’t know what to expect during the Pioneer Corn Roast. I was looking forward to finding out. I left the Visitor Centre and came to a marquee tent. Kawartha Woodturners Guild members were demonstrating their skills on the lathe and making toy "spinning tops" for the kids! Across the field was the Milburn House. I noticed a chalkboard sign that read “Whystle Dawgs”. Initially I thought it might be referring to food, but I quickly realized that the sign was referring to a musical performance. Unfortunately the "Dawgs" were not scheduled to start for another half hour, so I would have to come back to hear them. From there I started my tour along the Village's dirt roadway. As I walked along, I passed several different interpreters, each demonstrating their various "pioneer craft" skills. At the Village Green, I stopped to listen to “Gopher Baroque” performer. Like the audience that was seated there, I really enjoyed this trios performance! From the Village Green, I continued my walk along the Village roadway. I heard the ‘BOOM” of a cannon being shot. Down one of the side roads The "49th Regiment of Foot Living History Unit” had set up an encampment and were demonstrating musket and cannon fire. I stopped to talk to the re-enactors. We talked about the different re-enactments they have participated in and about the different re-enactments Judi and I had visited. It was a very interesting conversation and I learn a lot things that I could use in our War of 1812 Celebrations website.

Continuing My Tour...
From the 49th Regiment's encampment, I continued past the blacksmith shop and then the schoolhouse. Outside the blacksmith's building a demonstrator was working hewing a log. At the Schoolhouse there was a sign indicating that a number of fun games were going to be held at 2:30. I had hoped to get back to watch the games, but unfortunately, I didn't make it. The fun games included sack races and three legged races. Past the schoolhouse, I stopped at the Shingle Mill. This was the first time I had seen a demonstration there. It’s hard to describe exactly how the saws work but here is the "uneducated version". Inside the Mill there are two large saws, one set horizontally and the other vertically. Outside the Mill is a large steam tractor with a very large flywheel. Hooked over the flywheel is a large wide pulley that runs from the tractor into the building. In the building it is attached to the saws. The whole operation takes three or four men to run. One man operates the steam tractor and its flywheel and the two men in the building operate each of the saws. The horizontal saw cuts the log into thin pieces and the vertical saw trims the thin pieces. All in all, it was very fascinating and fun to watch! Moving on again, I passed the Cider Mill (not manned at this event) and came to a table where there were two young interpreters were showing children how to grind corn into cornmeal. The kids, re-enactors and participants, were all having a lot of fun! The next demonstration was taking place in the Trade Barn. The interpreter was showing a large group how to make rope. He captivated the audience with his knowledge! At the side of the Trade Barn, another large group of people had gathered. I walked toward them to see what they were looking at. It was a live birds of prey demonstration. Educators from “The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species” were on hand to show and talk about these magnificent animals.

The Pioneer Corn Roast...

After the birds, I found my way to one of the main attractions of the day, the Pioneer Corn Roast. Steam was rising from the boiling pot! I stood and talked to the volunteer who was stoking the fire. I really wanted to taste the corn, but I knew I would be in "big trouble" if I didn’t go and get Judi! I "dragged" Judi away from her volunteer post and we both enjoyed a ear delicious roasted corn! While Judi returned to her post to complete her duties, I decided to enjoy the wagon ride. This really gave me a good perspective of what was happening at the Lang Pioneer Village's Pioneer Corn Roast. Any "expectations" that I may have had were more than meant! This was the climax to a great day at Lang Pioneer Village.

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