Celebrating harvest and history: Old Baker Farm holds annual Cotton Pickin’ Festival

Published 10:22 am Monday, October 26, 2015

Civil War reenactors recreate a battle during the Cotton Pickin' Festival at Old Baker Farm on Oct. 25. (Reporter Photo / Emily Klein)

Civil War reenactors recreate a battle during the Cotton Pickin’ Festival at Old Baker Farm on Oct. 25. (Reporter Photo / Emily Klein)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HARPERSVILLE—Thousands of people flocked to Old Baker Farm on Oct. 24 and 25 for the Cotton Pickin’ Festival. The annual festival not only marks the harvest, it also celebrates the history of the farm and surrounding Harpersville and Vincent communities.

Selected by the USDA as a millennium farm, Old Baker Farm is more than two centuries old.

“It was 100 years old in 1902,” farmer and owner of Old Baker Farm, Jerry Baker, said. “The old homestead here is the oldest homestead in Shelby County.”

Along with a pumpkin patch and fields of sunflowers, corn and cotton, the farm is home to an old Native American village and a Civil War entrenchment. The Cotton Pickin’ Festival celebrates the farm’s rich history with Civil War reenactments and performances by Native American dancers throughout the weekend.

“It has to do with things that happened here,” Baker said of the celebration. “(It’s) all part of the living history here.”

Nearly 100 Civil War reenactors traveled from across Alabama to attend this year’s festival.

“We like it here,” Civil War reenactor Brian McWilliams said. A Huntsville resident, McWilliams has been a regular at the Cotton Pickin’ Festival for nearly a decade.

Reenactors typically arrive the Friday before the festival to set up camp and prepare for the busy weekend schedule. Each day reenactors perform gunfights in the morning, then reenact a battle in the afternoon.

“We try to be as accurate as possible, within reason,” McWilliams said. “We try to keep things looking as authentic as we can.”

Joel Pope, a reenactor for more than 20 years, said he enjoyed the crowds the Cotton Pickin’ Festival draws.

“There was a huge crowd of spectators,” Pope said. “It’s pretty busy.”

In addition to the living history events, the festival offered a variety of attractions spread throughout the expansive farm. Attendees enjoyed hayrides, food, a corn maze, pumpkin picking, live music and much more.

“That’s the great part, it’s not just in one place,” Baker said. “It’s really neat, it’s a festive event and it’s a historic event.”