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The historic town of Ste. Genevieve took a step back in time Saturday to see and experience the ways of their ancestors at the Lions Club's Tenth Annual Rural Heritage Day.

The event’s artisans included leather workers, woodcarvers, chair makers, blacksmiths, apple cider pressers, apple butter makers, soap makers, fur trading/trapping/tanning, rope making, lace making, crocheting, wool-spinning and more, in addition to plenty of shopping to be had in the town.

Children enjoyed the chance to make their own rope, master their sling shot skills, and took a turn at target practice with a BB gun.

Donze said all the historic houses throughout town were open for tours.

As attendees walked into the main event off of Old St. Mary's Road they were immersed in the sight of the Ste. Genevieve Militia dressed in period clothing with a full campsite set up, the sound of antique tractors, and the smell of apple butter being cooked on an open fire.

The event started with an opening ceremony followed by an antique tractor parade. Due to rain the night before the amount of tractors was limited and the activities to be performed in a big field had to be downsized. 

Event organizer Jack Donze said they had a lot of new vendors this year including a chuck wagon where kids could learn to rope, and a new wood worker.

"We've got a great turnout and we’ve got some good entertainment going on," Donze said. "We had a terrible year last year, the weather was absolutely terrible. People came through, they ate and they left. But they are staying around this year to watch everything."

The main stage featured an antique surveying demonstration with Duck Bader, dulcimers with Shirley Pettus and her students, Patty Naeger and the German Chanteurs, the Minnith Mountain Hee Haw Kids, Ste. Genevieve Stompers, Dennis Stroughmatt and Kickin Country.

"We started it out as just another event to have for the town and to get our local people out," Donze said. "Our local people, they like this type of event. The last three years we have taken our street donations, we ask $3 when people come through, we take those street donations and give them to the elderly needy. Our food usually pays for our expenses so it works out good."

Donze said the event would not have been as successful without the help of some great sponsors and all the people who came out to help.

"We just have a tremendous amount of people that we would like to thank for helping us," Donze said.

"R&T Meats sponsors our hog butchering. Everyone enjoys getting over there and watching that. They use every bit of that hog ... they will make sausages, they will BBQ the ribs. I think they even make some head cheese."

Donze said the Ste. Genevieve Militia camp site was a new addition this year and they hope to grow the display bigger next year.

A tractor shuttle was available to shuttle attendees between the Creole House and the downtown areas making it easier to see all the activities.

Son's of Union Veterans of Civil War had a Civil War Camp showing history of Ste. Genevieve soldiers. A list of over 900 names of soldiers who were born, enlisted, died or lived in Ste. Genevieve and fought as either a Confederate or Union soldier in the Civil War was on display for attendees to look for their family name.

A photo from 1888 was on display showing the first celebration of Decoration Day or as we know it now Memorial Day by the Grand Army Post 326 in the middle of downtown Ste. Genevieve. 

Donze said the event provided attendees with a glimpse into the past from a variety of perspectives. 

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at


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