By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
EAST LIVERPOOL -- Nearly 25 years ago, a handful of area artisans gathered at Beaver Creek State Park to sell their wares and demonstrate frontier living skills to the sparse crowd that attended the event.
In the quarter-century that's passed, that modest start has grown into a bustling enterprise that draws thousands.
Pioneer Craft Days is "our big event of the year," said Jim Tillman, park manager.
Last year, nearly 15,000 visitors came to the park for the festival and a like number of attendees is expected this year.
Pioneer Days will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the park's pioneer village along Echo Dell Road.
Beaver Creek State Park is off state Route 7, north of the state Route 7 and state Route 11 intersection. The park is about eight miles north of East Liverpool.
Admission and parking for the two-day event are free.
The two-day festival's primary drawing card is the displays of crafts made by nearly 100 area artisans.
Crafts available for purchase will include ironwork, dried herbs and flowers and hand-painted wood items.
Only crafters whose work is of good quality and consistent with crafts used in the 19th century and before are allowed to sell items at the event, Tillman explained.
The festival also will feature music, food and demonstrations of pioneer skills such as quilting and blacksmithing.
An auction of donated craft items is set for 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the pioneer village.
The festival is organized by the Columbiana County Forests & amp; Parks Council, a private, nonprofit group that supports Beaver Creek State Park.
Pioneer Days' proceeds will be used to support the continued operation of the park's pioneer village and Gaston's Mill.
The village consists of several likenesses of frontier buildings such as a school and church.
Gaston's Mill is a working replica of a mill that once stood on the site.
With financial help from the parks council, the park renovated the mill last year, Tillman said.
A new roof was put on and a new wooden shaft was installed to replace a key component of the mill's mechanism.