Pioneer Museum gears up for several events

The Pioneer Museum is gearing up for a wide variety of events for children and families in order to share Sweetwater's history to the community.On August 5 and 6, the “Pioneering the Past: Summer Discovery Camp” will be held at the museum from 10 a.m. to noon. The two-day interactive archaeology camp, with the theme "Life's a Garden, Dig It", is open to students in grades 4 through 8.Museum Director, Melonnie Hicks, shared that Dr. Don Frazier, who gave a lecture in Sweetwater this past spring, will return to give a presentation to campers. Students will make medicine bags, play Comanche kids' games and participate in an archaeology dig.Also, a flint knapper will be at the camp to demonstrate how to make knives and arrowheads. The cost of the camp is $30 per student and includes snacks.The money raised from the camp will go in part toward the establishment of a children's museum. However, the museum has also set up a GoFundMe account, named PintSizedPioneers, with the goal of raising $200,000.If the money is completely raised, the children's museum would be placed in the attic. In the meantime, the children’s museum will be started in the basement.Another way the museum is raising money is through their YouTube channel, PioneerMuseum1967. On Tuesday, Sweetwater resident Justin Parrott, who has his Bachelor's degree in film and his Master's degree in creative writing, was at the museum to make a series of videos that will be posted to the channel. Every view, like or comment of a video generates into money for the museum. Hicks also shared that the museum is working on receiving grants to restore the house. Grant writers are welcome to assist in this process, as well as anyone who would be willing to fill out paperwork.In addition, any and all donations are welcome and can even be done online at the museum's website, By scrolling down to the bottom of the homepage, users can select the bottom, left "donate" button where they can donate through PayPal or with credit card. The museum asks that you specify what project you are donating to in the message part of the payment process.Along with financial assistance, Hicks stressed that volunteers are another major need of the museum. Whether it's cataloging and archiving items to make room for the children's museum, dating items, photo scanning or construction help, there are several projects that need assistance.For instance, Jose Villafranca and Tim Hendrix have committed to each building three walls so that eight exhibits can be placed within the chapel. Furthermore, children with an interest in history and the local museum are invited to come and volunteer.However, starting on July 21 through August 9, the museum will be closed for renovations, which include installing a new A/C for the barn. The summer camp will still commence as scheduled.Looking ahead, the Pioneer Museum has several events slated for the fall and upcoming school year. They hope to partner with the County-City Library and the Sweetwater ISD libraries to open the museum on Thursday nights in the fall and hold a "Stories on the Porch" event.They will also be working with Highland ISD's gifted and talented students, from grades 1 through 12, on a water research project which may also include students from Sweetwater ISD's gifted and talented program as well as an outside community as part of a distance learning program. The overall goal would be to establish the necessity and feasibility of a closed water pipeline to transfer water from areas of flooding to areas of drought.Two events are lined up for the month of October, starting off with the first annual “Sweetest Day Festival”. The all-day event will be held on Saturday, October 11 at the Square in Downtown Sweetwater.The holiday was created in 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio to help children and the elderly by bringing them sweet treats and raising money. The local festival will follow suit and each year, a cause either directed toward children, the elderly or animals will receive the funds raised from the event.Vendors are welcome to set up for a fee of $50, with funds from this year going toward the skate park being established by the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club. A skateboard demonstration will take place at the festival.In addition, games, food and sweets will be available from 3 to 7 p.m., with a street dance scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. There will also be a pie eating contest, as well as an infused-water drinking contest.And two weeks later, the annual Pumpkins on the Porch will be held on Saturday, October 25. Students in grades Pre-K through 6th can decorate a pumpkin or jack-o-lantern and enter a contest for prizes.Pumpkins must be turned in by 4 p.m. that day. This year, an outdoor movie will be added to the regular activities.The museum will also host their annual Christmas party, and in the spring, Hicks hopes to plan a "Rock and Read". This event will allow participants to read books in rocking chairs--that can be brought or donated--to raise money based on how many pages are read.The Pioneer Museum is also making some updates in other areas, for example the Sweetwater Jaycees have committed to updating their display in the rear of the Chapel. The museum has also established a community exhibit space in their WASP Memorial room. During the annual Sammy Baugh Classic coming up in late August, a display on Baugh will be set up in the WASP room. Hicks said that anyone with stories or encounters with Baugh can contact the museum to set up an interview so that the information can be included in the display. After this exhibit any group or family is welcome to set up a display on their local history. Once the materials are gathered and research is completed, the museum will help with set up of the exhibit. This invitation is open to all residents of Nolan County and any topic or historical focus is welcome.Additionally, anyone with stories on Sweetwater and Nolan County can contact the museum. Along with local stories from the World War II era, one topic the museum is hoping to share more about is the local railroads.Local artists are also invited to display their work in the WASP room for a one month show. For instance, this fall local artist Tom Turner will display his photographic work. Local clubs are also welcome to host meetings in the exhibit room for a small fee. The museum currently has a quilting club, but they also welcome ideas for class suggestions and talent showcases.Hicks stressed that the more assistance they receive at the museum--whether it is financially or through volunteer work, the more activities they can host for the community. In the meantime, they are continuing to promote the museum through social media, which also includes their Facebook page (Nolan County Pioneer Museum) and their Twitter account, @PioneerMuseum67.Hicks works alongside Betty Turner and their much appreciated local volunteer Mona Lambert. To learn more about the museum or to sign up for the summer discovery camp, visit