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Pioneer Day shows life, times of turn-of-century families

Their house isn't standing any more. Remnants of the Bishop family home still stand, though, pieces of the past that serve as a reminder of the struggles and daily rituals of previous generations.

John and Susan Bishop's family occupied the home, it is estimated, from the late 19th century until the era of Prohibition in the 1920s. The home serves as a focal point of the Chinsegut Nature Center's Pioneer Day, set for 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Besides visiting the site of the old homestead, visitors on Pioneer Day can watch demonstrations of activities that were common during the Bishops' time.

Guests at the Chinsegut Nature Center will be able to see beeswax candlemaking; broom and ropemaking; quilting and dollmaking; pine needle and reed basketmaking; cane syrup production; and how turpentine was extracted from pine trees.

Guests also can listen to storytellers recount tales and hear music of the period.

Kristin Wood, director of the Chinsegut Nature Center, began contacting individuals to provide the demonstrations about seven months ago.

"I went to the (Pioneer Florida) museum in Dade City for a list of vendors who do things like this. I contacted some of these people, and through networking and word of mouth, others were able to participate. People hear about this and call to come on board," she said.

This is Chinsegut's second year sponsoring this event. Wood said seeing the Bishop homestead a few years ago and pondering what type of event would appeal to a lot of people and introduce them to the Nature Center spawned the idea for Pioneer Days.

"Pioneer Days is full of cultural and historical events. It is indicative of what the period was like, and there are various events for everyone to see," Wood said. "This is part of Florida's heritage."

Activities are free and will take place throughout the day with special pioneer lunch fare and souvenirs for sale.

The Chinsegut Nature Center is about 7 miles north of Brooksville on U.S. 41; turn left on Lake Lindsey Road and travel about a mile. For more information, call (352) 754-6722.

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