Going Old School in the Chuck Wagon at Pioneer Day

Two pioneers and a chuck wagon at Pioneer Day in Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas.
“Two Pioneers and a Chuck Wagon,” Pioneer Day, by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

Going old school this time, as I recently paid a visit to Pioneer Day in Round Rock. This is an annual event held by the Williamson Museum where the Old Settlers Association is open the public. As part of the events, there was some living history on display. The “pioneers” showed off some old school tricks, everything from stocking their chuck wagons, churning butter, dipping candles, hammering tin, and making corn husk dolls. I took a break from my pile of images from Cuba to pay a visit and what a great time it was.

Getting Lost In the Pits

For starters, I wasn’t quite sure where the event was. I knew it was in Old Settler’s Park, but the park itself is rather large-you could get lost in there. In fact, that’s exactly what I did! I heard there were going to be Chuck Wagons at the Pioneer Day so I made it over to the park, which is also home to the Dell Diamond (baseball field) and a host to many other events. I found what I thought was the event, as I saw a lot of tents in the parking lot. After parking my car, I found myself in a sea of smokers and fire pits, with piles of brisket nearly everywhere. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “these pioneers ate an awful lot of BBQ. I don’t recall studying that in history class.” Stopping to ask where anything other than the chuck wagons were, I spotted a lady with a radio and asked, “Excuse me, sorry to trouble you, is this Pioneer Day?”

As luck would have it, the park was home that day to not only the Pioneer Day events but there was a BBQ cook off. All of the high schools across Texas had come to pit their pit masters in a head to head competition. Yes, you read that correctly. I somehow managed to infiltrate the great Texas high school BBQ cook off.

Finally – A Log Cabin in Sight

After my brief and rather aromatic visit to the pits (Nice brisket!) I found my way over to the real event, and checked in at the Pioneer Day log cabin. While they had special events lined up for the Pioneer Day, the place itself is home to a period house, a log cabin, a working farm, and a fire station. All of these were open for the day and I got to tour around checking out the entire location. The light was quite wonderful, as it was supposed to rain but instead we got these wonderful clouds that brought out all of the colors. I fed a cow, I think it was a bull actually, as it had horns, and a donkey followed me around for a while. (Luckily, I didn’t get a kick to the camera bag.)

Period sleeping quarters with canteen on display at Old Settlers Association in Round Rock, Texas.
“Old Settler’s Sleeping Quarters, Round Rock, Texas,” by Carol Schiraldi, 2024
Red truck in front of red barn at Old Settlers Association in Round Rock, Texas.
“Red Barn and Red Truck,” Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

Meet the Pioneers from Pioneer Day

Many volunteers participate in the event, showcasing the historic life and times of the local area. A treat for me was that I got to speak to many of them. I spent some time learning about the fire station, including the old fire trucks and how they used to pump water in case of a fire. An antique (one string) upright bass player played me a song and gave me a demo of an old school musical instrument, and I also got to hold and see a Winchester antique rifle. I enjoyed taking some portraits and learning all about the pioneers from the days of old.

Here is the bass player sharing his gift of song:

Pioneer volunteer playing a one string upright wash tub style bass instrument at Old Settlers Association in Round Rock, Texas.
“Upright bass, One String,” Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

Next we have the rifleman showing me the Winchester:

Portrait of a pioneer-volunteer at the Old Settlers Association Pioneer Day event in Round Rock, Texas.
“Pioneer Rifleman,” Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

Winchester demo:

Demo of a Winchester 15 antique repeater rifle at the Old Settlers Association in Round Rock, Texas.
“Winchester Demo,” Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

Lastly, my visit to everything old school would not be complete without paying a bit of homage to the photographer’s of yesteryear. As part of the Pioneer Day, there was a local photographer making tin types. I got to take a few newfangled shots of him at work. Here’s one behind the lens of the antique camera:

Antique camera used in the making of tin types, Old Settlers Association in Round Rock, Texas.
“Say Cheese,” antique camera making a tin type at Old Settlers Association, Round Rock, Texas, by Carol Schiraldi, 2024

It was really a great time, getting to see all of the living history. The skies started to grow dark but I managed to make it home before any of the storms hit. Lucky me! I got to spend time at Pioneer Day with wonderful light and a host of friendly pioneers. (Sorry, no word on bragging rights/who won the BBQ cook off but it sure did smell wonderful too.)

Until next time…

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