Church group leads ‘A Step Back in Time’
By Andrew Rice email@example.com | Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 5:22 am
SANFORD – Sanford’s Gowen Park will look a little different Saturday as a replica colonial American village will be erected, complete with candlemakers, Dutch-oven cooking, livestock and a gunsmith.
Members of the Sanford Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been organizing an event they are calling “A Step Back in Time” since May, but for the sheer number of participating exhibits, 17, it was put together quickly, and through a collaborative effort between members of the church and non-church-affiliated volunteers.
“It has been amazing,” said Jen Davie, who handles the church’s public relations. “I’ve been so impressed with the level of volunteerism that has come forward, both in membership and community.”
Davie says that while the majority of the organizing came from within the church membership, they have seen an outpouring of donations from many community residents and businesses with no church affiliation. According to Davie, this includes thousands of dollars in lumber from Lowe’s and Limington Lumber and nearly 1,000 bottles of water from Poland Spring.
“People have been so receptive and so excited,” she said.
The donated lumber went toward the building of pioneer-era replica buildings, which will be a centerpiece to the event and house the majority of its exhibits. Davie’s father, Ron Paquin, was charged with the task of building the makeshift structures.
“They’re sort of mimicking what you might see in an old western town,” Paquin said.
The 11 structures will be moved to Gowen Park Saturday morning with the help of wreckers from a local auto service. Paquin, a retired builder with more than 20 years of experience, says he and other church volunteers worked on the structures on four separate nights.
He said the pioneer village can show Sanford people that Mormons have a lot in common with the average American.
“We’re just like any other religion,” he said. “Sometimes when you tell people that you’re Mormon, they look at you like you have horns on your head. We want to show them who we are.”
Every year on July 24, members of the Mormon faith celebrate Pioneer Day, a holiday not only seen as a special occasion, but also a celebration of everyone who emigrated to the Salt Lake City region during the pioneer era. Davie compared the Utah holiday to the Fourth of July, as it is an official state holiday.
“It’s a time when we can reflect on our pioneer heritage,” she said.
Davie also sees the event as a way to gather the Sanford community in one place to reflect on where they came from and to bring Pioneer Day to their church membership.
“I don’t want to say that we don’t appreciate our heritage, but we don’t live in Utah,” she said. “We wanted to give our membership a taste of what goes on out there.”
The 17-exhibit event will feature a hands-on approach, as guests can knead their own bread and bring it to be cooked in a Dutch-oven exhibit. Other exhibits include a creamery for making ice cream, wood cutting, beekeeping, quilting and soap making.
Victor Van Gieson, who will be heading the Dutch-oven exhibit Saturday, says about 10 different items will be offered that pioneers may have cooked, including a lot of beans and breads. A Dutch oven is a large cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. Van Gieson says through being a scoutmaster of Sanford’s Cub Scout Troop 234, he has cooked many times with a Dutch oven, and learned multiple recipes.
“They (pioneers) used firewood and whatever they could find on the trail as a heat source,” he said. “We’re going to try to use firewood, as well.”
Davie hopes the event will appeal to the colonial background in everyone.
“It was a way for us to let our community know a little about our heritage,” she said. “So often we’re focusing on the faith, and instead I thought, ‘Let’s see what we have in common.’ Everybody has a story.”
A closer look“A Step Back in Time” is Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m.-noon, at Gowen Park in Sanford. The event will feature multiple exhibits including wood cutting, bread making, spinning, beekeeping, apothecary, quilting, archery and a string quartet.