FERRIS — A tradition that has been a part of the city for over fifty years, residents flocked to the Ferris downtown square for Pioneer Heritage Days on Saturday morning. The festival — hosted Oct. 1 by the Ferris Lions Club — celebrated the past while honoring a current city leader for her contributions to the Ferris and Ellis County.
The festival kicked off with a flyover by five vintage war-era airplanes from the Commemorative Air Force based at the Lancaster Airport and was followed by a parade.
The Grand Marshall and 2016 Pioneer of the year Carol Wright headed the parade and was followed by the high school band, drill team and cheerleaders, while floats from local organizations wound through the town.
The highlight of the opening ceremonies was the introduction and presentation of the 2016 award to Wright. Introducing Wright was Ferris Lion Club President, Cheree Barrett.
“She was the tax collector for the school district for 26 years, a member of the Ellis County Woman’s Republican Party, Member of the Lions Club, a member of the City Council and a board member of Gingerbread house in Waxahachie,” Barrett said.
According to Barrett, choosing the Pioneer of the Year requires a nomination process of the Lions Members where individuals are nominated and voted on by the members.
"They are then recognized for their achievements and contributions to the city. It was an honor to name Carol to be the 2016 Pioneer of the Year,” Barrett added.
“I am very grateful for this honor the city has bestowed upon me," said Wright after she accepted her award. "I plan to live to be one-hundred years old, stay in the city of Ferris and live day-by-day helping where I can. I’m not going anywhere."
The square was filed with several food services, residents selling crafts and fundraising by several groups. One of the fundraisers on hand supported the Ferris animal shelter. Members of Boy Scout Troop 206 carried signs and had a craft booth selling items while asking for support from the community to buy food, blankets and cages for the animals.
On the north end of the square, a replica of old town Ferris as it was in the 1800’s was set up. The old west town was a project of the Cowboy Church and the Southwest Gunfighters Old West Reenactment team.
There was even jail where citizens could be arrested and held for a bail — or donation, as some may call it.
Late in the morning, gun fire erupted in the town square while a "bank robbery" was in progress. Under the watchful eye of Investigator Walter “Gator” Weiss and Investigator Joe Sifuentes, the reenactment was run safely and with no real casualties.
Doc Holiday, also known as Carl Smith, was on hand to see to any casualties. Smith has portrayed Holiday and the undertaker with the reenactment group.
“I was born in the wrong time. But being a part of these reenactments is like a blast from the past," Smith said.
Other reenactments were held throughout the day for the entertainment of the crowds that filled the square.
“As the former mayor, I want to express my appreciation for community’s support for coming out today and celebrating Ferris Pioneer Days,” added former Ferris mayor and a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, Rick Barrett.