Reynoldsburg residents and visitors will get a chance to bring history to life on Pioneer Day, an annual visit to the past at the Livingston House, 1792 Graham Road.

Churning butter, washing laundry with a bucket and washboard, making dolls of rags, clothespins or corn husks, walking on stilts and playing old-fashioned games are some of the activities planned at the free event from noon to 4 p.m. June 17.

"We present history in a fun way, putting a positive spin on it, since lots of things were very hard in the 1800s in Reynoldsburg," said Sue Parks, of the Livingston House Society. "It is history on a good day."

She said participants will be able to go on a scavenger hunt inside the historic house, with volunteers who help to explain what they are looking for.

"Parents usually have to help the kids -- many kids think the rug beater is a type of tennis racket," she said.

Some real farm animals -- a goat and chickens -- also will be on hand.

"We will have someone demonstrating how to milk the goat, and the kids will be able to feed apple peels to the chickens," Parks said.

Pioneer Day is a joint venture of the Reynoldsburg Parks & Recreation Department and the Livingston House Society. This is the 11th year for the event, Parks & Recreation Director Donna Bauman said.

"We have about 20 volunteers who will be dressed in period clothing, but we could always use more volunteers," she said.

"It is a great way for the whole family to enjoy a Saturday together while learning about the American way of life in the 1800s," Bauman said. "Children and even some adults are amazed at how things are done and the amount of time needed to complete a task such as doing laundry.

"When they see the washboard and bucket, they are grateful for modern-day amenities," she said. "The children are also amazed that it could take up to an entire day to make butter."

Parks said refreshments will include kettle corn and lemonade.

She also noted the Livingston House might look very different to visitors.

"It has been painted white after being red for the last 25 years," she said. "It needed to be repainted, so most of the society thought it should be returned to its original whitewashed color."

The house was built in the 1800s by Alexander W. Livingston, who is known as the first horticulturist who succeeded in upgrading the wild tomato with seed experimentation and propagation. He developed "the Paragon" in 1870, a tomato breed that was stable and could be widely grown -- thus establishing Reynoldsburg as "the birthplace of the tomato" and giving rise to the city's annual Tomato Festival.

The Livingston House sits on five acres and is a city park with a playground. To schedule a tour of the house, contact the Reynoldsburg Visitors Bureau at 614-866-4888.

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