When Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th U. S. President on November 6, 1860, the news reached the West Coast by Pony Express.
When Pony Express Festival goers this year watch a re-enactment of that famous ride, Abraham Lincoln will be on hand to witness the mochila exchange. That is, someone claiming to be “Honest Abe” will be there…with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln.
All of this will happen on Sunday, August 31, during the 29th Annual Pony Express Festival at the historic Hollenberg Ranch Pony Express Station northeast of Hanover, Kans.
In addition to Abraham and Mary Lincoln, there will be blacksmiths, candle makers, basket weavers, leather worker, Indian maiden, flintknappers, bucket and broom makers, civil war reenactors, and most of the regular festival demonstrators. A trail has been blazed through the more than 35-acre tall grass prairie site for horse-drawn carriage rides.
Providing entertainment will be the Czechland Trio from Wilbur, Neb., and Paul Kessinger and his Jam Band from the Marysville, Kans. area. Mark “The Bremen Man” Allerheiligen will also entertain during the day on the festival grounds, and a special group playing dulcimers will be at the visitors’ center. There will also be a zither player and an Indian flute player.
The daylong festival activities get started at 10 a.m. The circuit rider preacher, Bill O’Borny, is scheduled to arrive by horse-drawn buggy at 11 a.m. for the non-denominational service, complete with community choir. Bill Bryant will be the master of ceremonies for the stage entertainment from 1:00 – 3:00. The Pony Express reenactment with mochila exchange will occur at 3 p.m., followed by the drawing for the festival quilt. Commemorative buttons will also be available.
On grounds during the day will food vendors including R&M’s Smokin’ Meat Wagon with pulled pork sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, tacos, nachos, and armadillo eggs (stuffed jalapeno peppers). Hanover High School cheerleaders will have watermelon slices for sale, and there will be a pie and ice cream wagon with lemonade and soft drinks.
Although the festival is free, there is a charge for the food, raffle tickets and commemorative buttons, and there may be a nominal charge for wagon and carriage rides.
The festival is presented by the Friends of Hollenberg Station with cooperation by the Kansas State Historical Society. All proceeds go to the Friends group to support the site preservation and promotion.
For more information about the festival and other activities of the Hollenberg Station, visit the Facebook page under Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site, or the web page at kshs.org/hollenberg, or call 785-337-2635.