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Franklin County celebrating bicentennial with Pioneer Day

Franklin County is having a birthday party this Saturday, and you’re invited!

To celebrate the bicentennial of Franklin County, which was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 6, 1818, Franklin County Archives director Chris Ozbirn and her Pioneer Day committee have a full day planned at Russellville’s Sloss Lake.

Pioneer Day, which is a free event, will take place on the east side of Sloss Lake. The event will feature living history vendors from the day when Franklin County was born.

There will be free activities, along with food and drinks available for purchase. Many of the artisans will also have their crafts for sale. Ozbirn said response to the event has been tremendous, with more than 60 craft vendors expected to attend. Ozbirn has planned a full day of fun and history. The only thing she can’t plan is the weather. In case of rain, though, Pioneer Day will be moved to the A.W. Todd Centre.

Free parking for Pioneer Day with bus shuttles will be available across Highway 24 from Sloss Lake.

“We have been so pleased with the response for this,” Ozbirn said.” It’s turned out way bigger than what I thought it would be to start with.”

Some of the activities include a spinning wheel, broom making, goat milk soap making, chair caning, handkerchief dolls, corn shelling, two blacksmiths and more.

There will be Native American camps featuring dancing and history of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. Additionally, there will be reenactments of the War of 1812, the American Revolution and a Civil War camp.

Six food vendors are scheduled to attend, offering everything from old fashioned ice cream to funnel cakes to fried Oreos to hamburgers.

Ozbirn’s committee includes Doris Hutcheson, Tracie Clark, Nicole Pell, Buffie Ozbirn, Cassie Medley, Grant Atkins, Jackie Richardson, Sharon Hester and Lauren Wester.

Pioneer Day will also feature historical figures brought back to life, including Chief Levi Colbert of the Chickasaw Nation, Andrew Jackson, Major William Russell and others.

Children’s activities include historical games from 1818, along with educational programs to teach them about local history.

Ozbirn expressed her appreciation to Russellville mayor David Grissom, Street Department supervisor Shannon Wilson and his staff, the Russellville Parks and Recreation Department, the Russellville Police Department and chief Chris Hargett, and the Russellville Fire Department and chief Joe Mansell.

“Everyone with the city has been so supportive and wonderful,” Ozbirn said. “The mayor even let us have his golf cart for the day.”

For more information on Pioneer Day, visit Franklin County Pioneer Day on Facebook.

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