Pioneer Experience Weekend

Spend an unforgettable weekend living on a Pioneer Farm

What was life really like for a pioneer family settling in the Genesee Country during the early 1800s?

Experience it for yourself! You’ll live the life of a pioneer family while Museum guests are around, but also in the solitude of a quiet summer night or on a cool autumn evening with the warm glow of firelight and candles illuminating your log home. Make our cabin your home away from home for the weekend! Imagine living and working at the Pioneer Farmstead and making our 1809 Hetchler Log House your home for one memorable weekend…

On select weekends again this year, you can partake in your own pioneer experience firsthand. As pioneers, you will tackle the daily chores necessary for your family’s survival – anything from fetching water to working the fields and gardens, caring for the farm animals, and cooking your meals over an open hearth. Activities change depending on the time of year and every Pioneer Experience is unique and customized for your family or group by our staff.

Your pioneer guide and advisor for the weekend will be an experienced Museum interpreter and open-hearth cook. Our Pioneer Farmstead staff thoroughly enjoys spending their days at the farm working around the log house, in the gardens, and throughout the farm as they share stories of pioneer farm life with all of our guests.

Your personal guide will be helping you master the skills necessary to accomplish all of the work required to keep the farmstead running smoothly during the day and to survive on your own each night.

Those selected to be part of our Pioneer House Experience will be required to attend an orientation session on a day scheduled prior to the start of their weekend. Each participant will be fitted for period clothing by our costuming department during orientation.


Making memories


Join us for a weekend experience you’ll never forget! The fee is $300 per adult, and $180 per youth (ages 8-16). A non-refundable down payment of 50% of the total is due upon acceptance. The remaining 50% is to be paid at the scheduled orientation. Payments can be made via cash, check, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or Discover). Each “pioneer” group must include a minimum of two adults. There is a maximum of 6 people per group.

Booking for 2024

Booking for our 2024 season is not yet available. Please check back soon! 

Frequently Asked Questions

When should we apply?

Please submit applications by April 14, 2023 in order to be considered for all possible weekend dates at that time. Each group must include a minimum of two adults, and there is a maximum of six people per group. If specific weekend spaces remain, applications will continue to be accepted until all weekends are full.

How will we be selected?

A team of administrative and interpretive personnel reviews each application. Acceptance decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning on April 14, 2023. Your selection will be based entirely upon the answers on your application, including creativity, interest, and what your family hopes to take away from this experience.

What happens when we are selected?

Valerie LeVine, one of the Museum’s interpretation managers, will contact you with the exciting news. You will have seven days to confirm your acceptance. You will then be contacted by your pioneer guide/advisor, who will be able to answer any questions you may have at that time. Both your costuming forms and first payment (see below) will be due within 21 days of your acceptance letter to secure your preferred weekend.

Can children under age eight (8) participate?

Due to the nature of this program, it is not recommended for children under eight (8) years of age. Younger children may be considered on a case-by-case basis. If accepted, younger children will be considered “youth” for pricing purposes.

How much does the Pioneer House Experience cost, and when do we pay?

The fee for the Pioneer House Experience is $300 per adult and $180 per youth (ages 8 – 16). Prices are non-negotiable. A non-refundable down payment of 50% of the total is due upon acceptance. Your down payment and completed costuming forms will be due within 21 days of your acceptance letter in order to secure your place. The remaining 50% is to be paid at the scheduled orientation. Payments can be made via cash, check, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or Discover).

What kinds of activities will we be doing?

You will be observing 19th-century traditions in the division of daily chores and activities. You or your family members will be carrying all the water your group will use for the weekend, as well as bringing in firewood, doing the cooking over an open hearth, and performing various household duties and farm chores. The farm chores will include a variety of activities depending on the season, but might include fence building or repair, work in the gardens, helping with the harvest, helping tend the animals, and more! There will also be some surprises planned for you. Your pioneer guide/advisor as well as other costumed staff will develop plans for your weekend and will be there to instruct you on how to successfully complete the activities, but you will be performing the tasks yourself. Some activities are weather-dependent.

Is there a schedule we can see in advance?

Each Pioneer House Experience is composed of seasonal activities appropriate to the ages and genders of the participants. While many activities are common to each Pioneer House Experience, others are tailored specifically to each participating group based on their application information. A set schedule will not be provided for you in advance. You will learn about your adventures as they occur, just as much of life would have been for an actual pioneer family.

Is the Pioneer Farmstead open to the public during our stay?

Your “home” will be open to the public from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day. You will be expected to interact with “your guests” while you carry on your tasks. Your pioneer guide/advisor will assist you in this. We encourage you to invite friends or family members to visit you during Museum hours to see how you are faring; keep in mind, however, that this is your pioneer experience, and you may not get assistance from, or include, them in completing your assigned responsibilities.

Will we be left completely alone out there?

Your pioneer guide/advisor will be with you most of the time during open Museum hours. In addition, a member of Museum security is on Museum premises at all times. There will be a walkie-talkie in your cupboard for you to reach them in case of an emergency.

Can we bring pets?

Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate pets at the Museum. Please make your own arrangements for a pet sitter or boarding in your hometown.

What health and safety concerns should we keep in mind?

Some activities can, by their nature, pose some risk, including (but not limited to) physical exertion, adverse weather conditions, and potential exposure to allergens (possible irritants in

this program may include wood smoke, straw, dust, wool, and animal and food allergens). Participants spend the weekend on a working living history farm and may, therefore, come into contact with sharp tools, nails, fire, hot cooking implements, animals (wild and domestic), and irregular, rocky or muddy pathways. A valid tetanus shot is recommended, as are sturdy shoes. Appropriate footwear is to be worn at all times outside the house. In addition, you will be kept informed of the current status of Covid-19 requirements upon arrival for orientation and your weekend experience.

What do we do if we require first aid?

If you require first aid during the day, help is available at the Ward-Hovey House, located on the Village Square. Should you require assistance at night or while the Museum is closed, you will be able to contact security for assistance.

What restroom facilities are available for our use?

Since modern plumbing was not available to pioneers, the closest restroom facilities you may use will be the “privy” (a disguised Porta Potty unit), which is located in reasonable proximity to the Pioneer Farmstead.

What clothing will the Museum provide?

You will be provided with all of the outer clothing and headgear (hats/caps/bonnets) that you will need. You will sleep in your assigned pioneer clothing. It is extremely important that you return the measurement information requested from our costuming staff that will be included in your acceptance package. Your experience cannot be secured until we have received both your completed costuming forms and your down payment. If you need to obtain a tape measure to complete the costume forms, they can readily be purchased at most Dollar Stores, fabric stores, etc.

Will my costume look like the clothing in Pride and Prejudice?

While Pride and Prejudice takes place at a similar time period to our Pioneer Experience, keep in mind that most of Jane Austen’s characters are members of the English gentry, while groups accepted to our program will be portraying pioneers on the American frontier. Clothing appropriate to a parlor in an English manor would not be appropriate on a frontier farm and vice versa. Our “pioneers” are outfitted in simple, historically accurate, working-class clothing based on what would have been available and practical on the frontier. This may include printed cotton short gowns and woolen petticoats for women, and overalls and linen work shirts for men.

What clothing do we need to bring?

You are responsible for bringing your own socks, undergarments and shoes. Wool socks (in black, white, gray, or brown) and long underwear are recommended, as nights may be cool (especially in the fall). Cotton socks will also be fine. Please avoid polyester or nylon stockings as they can melt to your skin if a spark inadvertently pops onto them from the fire. Undergarments do not have to be 19th-century appropriate as long as they can be easily hidden by your outer clothing.

What sorts of shoes are acceptable?

Shoes should be either black or dark brown, closed-toed, and sturdy enough for farm use. Men and boys may wear work boots. Shoes must be worn outside the house at all times. 

TIs there any training beforehand? How will we learn the skills we’ll need to use?

Accepted pioneer groups will be required to attend an orientation, which is generally scheduled two weeks before your Pioneer Experience.* During your orientation session you will first meet with an interpretation manager before heading out into the Historic Village to try on your pioneer clothing, learn to rope a bed, be shown where to find the restroom facilities and first aid station and a few other useful places, and meet with your pioneer guide/advisor at the Pioneer Farmstead.

*While it is very much preferable for your orientation to be well before the start of your Pioneer Experience, groups who are traveling from more than three (3) hours’ drive away may make arrangements to arrive early the Friday of their Pioneer Experience and have their orientation that day. Please contact the Village if this option will be necessary for your group.

Where do we go when we come to the Museum for our orientation?

Upon your arrival, you will report directly to Admissions. They will notify the Interpretation staff in the Ward-Hovey House of your arrival. You will be greeted by a staff member who will escort you from Admissions to the Interpreter Parking Lot (where you will leave your car) and from there to the rest of your orientation!

Where do we park our car during our Pioneer Experience?

During your orientation you will be escorted by golf cart to the Interpreter Parking Lot, which is reached via the service road from the main parking lot. This is also where you will leave your car during your weekend. You will not be permitted to return to your vehicle until after your experience ends on Sunday afternoon and will surrender your keys for safe-keeping in the meantime. Please make sure you have everything from your car that you will need during the weekend!

What should we bring?

Bring your enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things! As far as material possessions, you may bring a small bag containing your toothbrush (no toothpaste, though!), antiperspirant, insect repellant, sunscreen, and a non-smartphone camera (for use before and after Museum open hours only). Also remember to bring your shoes, socks, undergarments, and clothing to wear home on Sunday. Women should bring any required monthly sanitary supplies, and anyone who requires medication should be sure to bring that as well.

What should we not bring?

Please do not bring large amounts of money, modern jewelry (except wedding rings), or wristwatches. You may bring an old-fashioned pocket watch if you desire, but it is not necessary. What’s time to a pioneer, anyway? You do not need to bring any food or tools, as the food supplies required for the six meals you will eat during your experience, as well as any equipment needed to carry out your planned pioneer tasks, will be provided. Cell phones, car keys, and other modern possessions that are unnecessary for the weekend will be secured in a locked place during your experience.

When should we arrive for our Pioneer Weekend?

We will be in contact with you after you have been selected for the Pioneer Experience. We will make arrangements with you regarding the date for your required orientation and the time to arrive for costuming before your experience begins. Your Pioneer Experience weekend will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday and will end around 3 p.m. on the following Sunday. Once again, if you are traveling from a great distance and cannot make an earlier orientation date, please plan on arriving earlier than 3 p.m. on Friday.

Contact us


If you have additional questions that are not addressed here, please call (585) 294-8250. Thank you!