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LUTZ // Festival lets pupils travel back in time

Not many people have roots in northern Hillsborough County as far back as Joy Hodges.

Her family came to the Lake Magdalene area by wagon train in the mid-1800s and lived the simple life of the traditional settler. Her background makes it all the more important to Hodges, who lives in Lutz, that the heritage of this semirural community be preserved for her children and future generations.

For the past four years, Hodges has done her part by volunteering to teach about the life of pioneers at the annual Olden Days Festival at Lutz Elementary, 202 Fifth Ave. SE. Today, at this year's festival, Hodges will teach the art of stained glass while the entire school learns about life at the turn of the century.

"Kids need to have a sense of their heritage," Hodges said. "I think it's so sad that people these days just don't know where they came from. This is an old community, and people are proud of it."

In past years, Hodges taught pupils about writing with feather quill pens and how to grow strawberries. This year Hodges and her 13-year-old daughter, Summer, will demonstrate how to piece together stained glass.

Hodges and many other parents volunteer at the all-day festival to teach pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade how to milk cows, churn butter and make a quilt. Pupils also will go on a hay ride, pan for gold, listen to storytellers and play games such as marbles, sack races and Hula Hoops.

Lutz Elementary principal Gloria Kolka said pupils have spent recent weeks studying Lutz's history.

"We want them to know what happened in the olden days, before TV and computers," Kolka said. "The students just love it. This is something they'll remember forever."

Besides the many parents who help out, some longtime Lutz residents don long dresses and work clothes to watch the festivities.

Marcia Walters plans to teach pupils how to milk a cow using a wooden figure of a cow and balloons filled with water. Walters went to the Old Lutz School in the 1960s, and remembers a rural area in which many residents ran a farm. Walters and her son Mark, a second-grader, plan to wear overalls and western hats.

"A lot of kids don't have the opportunity to see these things anywhere else," Walters said. "This is a chance for them to realize how much history there is here."

Michelle Roser, a Lutz Elementary teacher who helped organize the event, said that though the festival is not open to the public, it has become a "community-type thing."

"Lutz is still pretty rural and neighborhoodish," she said. "We try to bring back life back then through crafts and games. So many times history is a subject you read about and can't put your hands on. This is a way to bring history to them."

_ If you have a story about Lutz, call 226-3469.