The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 1, 2013

Tradition continues at Pierpont Township's 123rd Pioneer Picnic

Star Beacon

PIERPONT TOWNSHIP — A horse-drawn carriage moves slowly through the grounds of the Pioneer Picnic drawing people back to the 1800s when the event got started 123 years ago.

History and tradition are the key to an event that draws hundreds of people to a rural area for a weekend of games, horse pulls and food.

Skye Rafter, 4, of Broadview Heights, won the Tiny Miss Pioneer Picnic competition on Saturday and was all over the food side of the event. During the competition she was asked what she enjoyed most about the picnic.

Without hesitating she said, “The food.”

A variety of food booths line the picnic grounds located at 1809 Middle Road. Auction tables, music, cross-cut sawing and mini-horse pulls were a small portion of the activities available for those braving the warm temperatures to attend.

“We come here every year ... It’s kind of a tradition,” said Peggy Settle from Williamsfield Township. She said her granddaughter Madison Fowler, 3, of Williamsfield Township, was the runner-up to Raftery.

Jacque Raftery, Skye’s mother, said the family camps in the area and attended the Pioneer Picnic last year for the first time. She said the event provides a lot of fun activities for her daughter.

“She loves the frog jumping (which she won) and the pageants ... it’s more something for her,” Raftery said.

Lynette Bonanno, treasurer of the picnic and pageant director, said the committee continues to keep the event alive because of the history. She said the organization tries to pass on the history of the picnic.

“They (the original group in 1890) used to just get together with their families,” Bonanno said.

“It started out as a family reunion and it just got bigger and bigger,” said Cindy Bonanno, secretary of the picnic.

The Senior Miss Pioneer Picnic contest was held on Friday and won by Christina Burnette, 15, of Pierpont Township. The first runner-up was Abby Tobias, 15, of Conneaut.

The Junior Miss Pioneer Picnic contest, also contested Friday, was won by Jordan Neal, 13, of Linesville, Pa., and Morgan Radwich, 12, of Seagertown, Pa.. she said.

The event continues today at 10 a.m. with a cornhole contest and a Gospel Music performance. A baby contest is scheduled at noon to be followed by a horseshoe pitching contest.