Rope knitting, quilting, soap-making and wood-carving displays were all part of Denham Springs’ seventh annual Pioneer Day.
Saturday’s event, held in downtown Denham Springs, featured skills and products from different community vendors and hobbyists.
Event coordinator Elvin Watts said Pioneer Day was created because “we’re just trying to let the community and people see that there’s still people that continue that line of thought and trades that you don’t get to see anymore.”
Watts feels the event serves to teach skills that are no longer part of everyday American education.
“You’re not going to have a wood-carving class in high school or anything,” Watts said. “It kind of shows you your heritage, where your forefathers came from and the things that they had to do to make life carry on to the point where we are today.”
Jesse Eaves is a hobbyist who does Marlin-Spike rope knitting and collects wooden items that were used to make sailing ships in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Eaves said he got into his hobby while in the Navy in the 1950s.
“I got interested, and I’ve been at it ever since,” Eaves said. “I come here, I go to libraries, I go to schools, I talk to anybody who will listen to me. I try to teach them knots because there’s a few people in the United States, but I think I’m the only one in Louisiana who does it.”
Eaves uses only Louisiana wood as a nod to his culture.
“All the wood is Louisiana wood. My son is an arborist, and he brings me the wood, and I get to use it as part of my hobby,” Eaves said.
Debbie Bishop, from Denham Springs, attended the event with her daughter and granddaughter and feels like “everyone should come and do this with their families.”
She was impressed with the music and the honey.
“It’s so cool that people still know how to do this kind of stuff. Everybody doesn’t know how to be a potter, or a builder, but I’m glad we still have people that know how to do this stuff and I want my daughter and granddaughter to appreciate it,” she said.
Jules Lambert, of Denham Springs, displayed a boat he carved from a special type of wood harvested out of Lake Maurepas.
“It’s sinker cypress. These are logs that were lost 100 to 150 years ago during the logging operation in Livingston Parish,” Lambert said. We go down and recover these logs that were lost, cut them up, dry them and make boats out of them or furniture or whatever.”
“It takes about two or three weeks to build a boat like this and it takes about two months to varnish it; it’s not an eight-hour day. The logs have been underwater for 100 to 150 years, so the minerals in the mud they’ve been sitting in have made them change colors.”
Janet Holiday, from Baton Rouge, attended the event with her husband and feels the event helps to bring people from the Denham Springs area together in one place.
“We try to come every year that they have it. It’s just a lot of people we know, friends we’ve seen, interesting arts and crafts,” Holiday said. “This is certainly a community outreach. It’s bringing people together in beautiful weather for some fun and definitely uniting the community.”