While Jack Donze does a lot of the heavy lifting for the Ste. Genevieve Lions Club when it comes to organizing Rural Heritage Day, he said the support of the community is a huge factor in the event’s success.
“We have a lot of local support,” Donze said. “The whole community supports this thing, and we have a lot of people who donate money to us to help with our expenses. We get really good support.”
This year marks the 11th annual Rural Heritage Day, a celebration of how things were done from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century.
The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday (October 26), with most activities along St. Mary’s Road.
The event brochure calls it “a day of history, reverie and reminiscence dedicated to our hardworking forefathers and foremothers.”
Most activities will take place on the Missouri State Parks property on St. Mary’s Road adjacent to the Beauvais-Amoureux House, which is now a property of the National Park Service as the federal agency begins the process of establishing a national historic park here.
After opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. with Company J of the 78th Enrolled Missouri Militia re-enactors, events begin on the main stage with County Surveyor Gerald “Duck” Bader providing a demonstration of how land surveying was done using 19th century tools.
The Front Porch Players from Perry County will make their debut at Rural Heritage Day with a performance from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Hee Haw group from Minnith will follow with songs and comedy skits.
The Ste. Gen. Stompers dance group will follow that.
Kickin Kountry will perform from noon to 4 p.m. to wrap up activities on the stage.
An antique tractor display will be along the east side of St. Mary’s Road in the Big Field, and the tractors will parade through downtown beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Plowing will take place in the Big Field, weather permitting.
The machine displays also include hit-and-miss engines as well as engines grinding corn and sawing wood.
There will be additional activities for children this year.
Gary Boedefield returns with his sling shot and BB gun games, and Missouri State Parks will have some new games.
There will be a small animal area, and Flint Smith returns with his covered wagon, where he will teach young people how to rope.
Exhibitions and demonstrations along St. Mary’s Road include wood carvers, basket-making, apple press and apple cider, leatherworking, fur-trapping, spinning and weaving, butchering, rope-making, and much more.
Donze said there will be more than 30 demonstrations in all.
“This year, we’re going to have a group of blacksmiths,” Donze said. “This year, we’ve got three that are going to be working together.”
Military buffs can view displays related to the militia as well as Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the World War II collection of Chris Kertz.
In downtown Ste. Genevieve, demonstrations include quilling with Lisa Palmer at the Welcome Center, a working loom with Debbie Todd Hunter at First Settlement antique store and three women from the Heartland Lace Guild demonstrating at the Shaw House.
Rural Heritage Day also is known for its comfort food with ham and beans with cornbread being served along with chili, bratwursts and hot dogs. Desserts will be available to benefit Project Graduation.
Parking at Moses Austin Park near Main and South Gabouri streets will be coordinated by Boy Scouts, and free shuttles from Lost Acres Tractor Club will take people down St. Mary’s Road as well as through downtown.
Admission is a $3 donation, which Donze said is donated to various groups in Ste. Genevieve County.