Described as the “quintessential 19th century town,” Carrollton will offer a trip back in time — as well as showcase many of Carroll County’s talented artists, musicians and craftsmen — during the upcoming Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day Festival.
The annual event, hosted by the Carroll Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, will be held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2 and 3. The event will include several pandemic-related modifications.
“We’re looking forward to a great event,” said Pam Lee, the chairwoman of the Carrollton Pilgrimage Board and the Carroll Society for the Preservation of Antiquities.
Lee, who is also mayor of Carrollton, said, “It’s been a little challenging” figuring out a way to hold the event this year while incorporating COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
“The Pilgrimage Board and the Antiquities Society have worked hard to make it as safe as we can possibly to hold it,” she said.
Some of the preventative measures will include:
• COVID-19 surveys will be conducted when purchasing tickets.
• Masks will be provided for ticketed events.
• Indoor events will be limited in size.
• Instead of home tours, guests will visit with the homeowners outside on their porches.
• Participants for non-ticketed events are encouraged to wear masks and follow other recommendations.
• Hand sanitizer will be provided.
• No large group transportation will be offered.
• Vendors will be spaced farther apart to allow for social distancing.
• Guests are requested to use the trash containers that will be provided in each location.
The Pilgrimage will feature “porch parties” at some of Carrollton’s historic homes, with several that have not been on tour before. The tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
“The homeowners will be on their porches and will welcome guests there and share information about the homes and the history, the architecture and about the people who have lived there,” said Lee.
Homes, built in the 19th century and early 20th century, on the tour will include the Old Carrollton Hotel, the Doll House, Fairview, Wayside, Lum Reek, Mathairs Feith and Cotesworth, which will be open to visitors since it’s not a residence.
“I think people like seeing the history and all of the homes,” said Lee. “Carrollton has such a wide range of architectural styles that you can come to one place and see. You can see homes from 1828, the oldest home in town, before the county was a county, up to the last one built in 2012, and you can see every one of those architectural styles in Carrollton.”
The tour will also include three churches — Carrollton Baptist Church, Carrollton Methodist Church and Grace Episcopal Church — and other historic places of interest, such as the Merrill Museum, built in 1834; Carrollton Masonic Lodge, built in 1899 and the second-oldest lodge in Mississippi; Gee’s Store, an early 1900s mercantile store; the Carroll County Courthouse, built in 1877 and recently updated; and People’s Bank and Trust, which will only be open for viewing in the mornings.
The event will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the filming of Academy Award-winning movie “The Help” in Carroll County. The movie was also filmed in neighboring Greenwood.
“It was released a year later but it was actually filmed, the Carroll County part of it, in August 10 years ago,” said Lee.
The event will include a special “Tastes from ‘The Help’” package, which will be held Saturday.
The package will include porch parties from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greenwood homes of Skeeter and Hilly from the movie, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cotesworth in North Carrollton, which was the location used for the Foote Plantation.
Cookbook author and food stylist from “The Help,” Lee Ann Flemming, who writes a weekly food column in the Commonwealth, will present a program at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cotesworth.
Those attending will receive a cookbook containing some of the recipes Flemming used in the movie, including the infamous Minny’s Chocolate Pie — minus one ingredient Minny used in the movie, of course.
“She will talk about her experiences related to the recipes that are in the cookbook,” said Lee. “She’s also volunteered to make a pie and give it away as a door prize.”
The Pioneer Day Festival will include a car show, featuring several vehicles used in the filming of “The Help.”
A free screening of “The Help” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the courtroom at the Carroll County Courthouse. Seating is limited.
While the Pilgrimage will be held both days, the Pioneer Day Festival will be held only on Saturday.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. and include arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and live entertainment, all on the courthouse square.
At 9:30 a.m., an opening program will be held and will include speakers Craig Ray, director of Visit Mississippi, state Sen. Lydia Chassaniol and state Rep. Karl Oliver.
The music will begin at 10 a.m. on the west courthouse steps.
“We’ve got some new music this year and some folks who are returning, but they are all from Carroll County,” said Lee.
The live entertainment will include emcee Benny Rigby, Bear Marsh Praise Choir, Cobbins Brothers, Como Sisters, Toad and the Good Ole Boys, and Dollinda Malone and family.
Those attending are encouraged to bring chairs, masks and even a tent for shade.
The festival will also include a pancake breakfast at the Masonic Lodge Saturday morning, and about 30 vendors will be at the event, including many Carroll County artists and craftsmen.
“We will have some good arts and crafts,” said Lee.
Educational booths include the Mississippi John Hurt Foundation, which gives away a guitar every year, and Forestry Questions and Answers with Dr. Brady Self, MSU Extension forestry specialist. The Carrollton/North Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department will have a fire safety education booth.
Starting a new yearly tradition, Christmas ornaments will be sold at the event. The 2020 ornament will feature the Carroll County Courthouse.
“We are starting a Christmas ornament collection,” said Lee. “They are made in Mississippi, and next year we’ll have a different building featured, and they are $15 each.”
Lee said organizing this annual event is a group effort. “I don’t do this by myself; I have a whole group of people who work to make it happen.”
She added, “We could not do this without the homeowners being willing to open up their homes and let people come and visit with them.”
Tickets for the Pilgrimage are $25 each for adults and $10 each for students. “The Help” package is $50 per person and sold separately from the tour.
Tickets will be sold at Carrollton Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
For more information, go to VisitCarrolltonMs.com or call 392-4810. Call Cathy Whitfield at 392-6194 for information on how to be a vendor at the event.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.