Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pioneer Experience ; Warrick County Fourth Graders Get a Hands-On History Lesson

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pioneer Experience ; Warrick County Fourth Graders Get a Hands-On History Lesson

Article excerpt

Molly and Queenie, a pair of Belgian horses, walked slowly across the field as their owner Mike Ice trailed behind with a plow. The horses turned and stopped on command in front of a crowd of awe- struck fourth graders, who marveled at the size of the animals. Mollie and Queenie were only a small part of the things to be experienced at the annual Pioneer Days at Thresherman Park, just north of Boonville. About 790 fourth graders, from all 10 Warrick County public elementary schools as well as St. John the Baptist School in Newburgh, attended this year's celebration of farm life at the turn of the 20th century.

"A lot of these kids have not been this close to horses before," Ice said. "My goal is that one of these days one of these kids will decide that he or she wants a team of horses. I think that's what you'll find here, we're passing on what we know, because that knowledge is getting rare."

Pioneer Days is also the kickoff for the annual Fall Steam Show sponsored by the Antique Steam and Gas Engine Club. The show continued through Sunday, with live music Saturday and a church service on Sunday morning, But the show was mostly about history.

"We want people to understand where they come from, how we got to this point and how much work it involved," Ice said. "The technology we have today was not around, and everything was done with backs and hands."

Among the fourth graders who walked the grounds on Thursday were classmates Khyli Butler and Connor Alexander from Katherine Skelton's class at Oakdale Elementary school. They said they'd miss things like indoor plumbing and iPods, but still thought life more than a century ago had some advantages.

"The bad thing about it is their stuff didn't work as well as things do now," said Butler. "But since people had a lot of land, you'd always have room to play. And the machines are just noisy."

The horses and big engines certainly held Alexander's attention, though he admitted the horses were a little scary up close.

"The machines are huge," said Alexander. "They are cool, and I think they'd be fun to use and look at."

Oakdale Principal Joshua Susott said it was important for students to see history brought to life, because the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Pioneer Days aren't found in a textbook. …

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