Festival-goers Get Glimpse of Pioneer Days
By Office of Communication
Posted on October 01, 2012, October 01, 2012

A schoolmarm weaved through the aisles of a one-room school house built in 1909.

A few feet away, a black smith created candlesticks and other treasures.

Visitors to the annual Front Street Festival at Knapp Heritage Park on Saturday got a taste of the history and heritage of Arlington. Festival-goers toured historic buildings and cabins, learned how to make corn husk dolls, chatted with a working blacksmith and got a glimpse into the day in the life of a school child.

"We want to bring awareness to the exciting, interesting history of our city," said Geraldine Mills, director of the Arlington Historical Society, which sponsored the daylong event. "Knowing about history is important. You have to know where you came from to know where you're going."

Rain hampered attendance at the festival, which drew a couple hundred visitors throughout the day. Previous years have seen more than 2,000 attendees.

But for some, rain did little to dampen their spirits.

Seven-year-old Ashley Davis, who toured the school house, said she could not believe that students attended school in one room with no electricity.

"It was really different back then," she said. "I can't imagine that."

Cheryl Taylor-West, a member of the Arlington Historical Society, dressed up as the historic figure Annie Webb Blanton, a teacher and the first woman to win election to statewide office in Texas.

Taylor-West showed visitors a coal stove that would have provided heat on cold days, vintage tin lunch boxes like the ones students would have carried to school and small chalkboard slates they would have used for lessons.

"Things were a little more rustic," she said. "No cell phones. No computers. There was a teacher and a few books, and that was it."

Tom Cogdell, a retired also a member of the Arlington Historical Society, said Knapp-Heritage Park provides a tangible piece of history to visitors.

"Children have heard about one-room schoolhouses in books and TV, but they are always surprised to see they were real," Cogdell said. "People really did live like this."

To learn more about the annual Front Street Festival and Historic Arlington visit the Arlington Historical Society at the Historic Fielder House, 1616 W. Abram St. Arlington, TX 76013 or online at www.HistoricalArlington.org.

By Sarah Bahari


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