Sunday, June 25, 2000

Festival a Fourth throwback

Statehood Days leads up to bicentennial

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HANOVER TWP. — Larry Burns doesn't consider himself more patriotic than anybody else, but he does appreciate his state and nation.

        So two years ago the Butler County man came up with an original idea: Statehood Days, a re-enactment of Ohio's first Fourth of July in 1803, the year Ohio became the 17th state.

(Dick Swaim photo)
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        “Independence Day was the only real holiday of the year then,” he said. “Christmas wasn't really celebrated, except as a Christian rite. We had had the king's birthday, and we needed our own day.”

        From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 8 and 9, Mr. Burns and Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village will host the second annual Statehood Days at the Warren County park, near Waynesville.

        About 150 period re-enactors are expected to attend, presenting programs from artillery demonstrations to pie-baking to a Simon Kenton skills competition, including throwing tomahawks and demonstrating other acts of physical prowess.

        “I've been into re-enacting for 20 years and I've always been kind of patriotic,” Mr. Burns said. “I thought this would be a good way to have an 1803 Independence Day celebration in 2003, when we celebrate Ohio's bicentennial. I knew we'd have to start the event a few years ahead of time, to get it going.

        “But when I researched the old newspapers, I found very little written on the founding of Ohio and a whole lot on Independence Day. When people moved into Ohio, they already knew it would become a state, so I guess they didn't make a big deal out of its founding.”

        Described as a belated Fourth of July celebration, Statehood Days will also include a parade, militia muster, cannon salutes, pig and corn roasts, an ice cream social and other activities at Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village, 3999 Pioneer Village Road, near Waynesville, said Kevin Hurt, village administrator.

        He said he would like to see Statehood Days continue after Ohio's Bicentennial, and possibly be celebrated in other areas of the state.

        Pioneer Village, near Caesar Creek State Park, is a collection of cabins and other buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. Mr. Burns is president of the village's board of trustees and state coordinator of Statehood Days.

        “Most of the speeches we'll give are from period sources. I'll try to keep this thing informative, patriotic and interesting for all ages.”

        Admission to Statehood Days is $5, $2 for children under 12. For information, call the park at 513-897-1120.


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