Al Hershberger was honored at the Soldotna Progress Days Pioneer Barbecue and Meet and Greet, where was named grand marshal of the Progress Days Parade, Friday, July 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Al Hershberger was honored at the Soldotna Progress Days Pioneer Barbecue and Meet and Greet, where was named grand marshal of the Progress Days Parade, Friday, July 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Barbecue celebrates Soldotna’s early homesteaders and pioneers

Al Hershberger was presented with a proclamation designating Al Hershberger Appreciation Weekend.

Dozens of people came out to the Soldotna Homestead Museum to celebrate and honor Soldotna’s early pioneers and homesteaders, including Al Hershberger — who was named the grand marshal of the Soldotna Progress Days Parade. Hershberger was also presented with a proclamation from the city of Soldotna, which proclaimed Progress Days weekend as Al Hershberger Appreciation Weekend.

During the presentation, Hershberger said he was at a loss for words. After the ceremony, folks were invited to a free barbecue dinner and encouraged to explore the cabins that make up the Soldotna Homestead Museum.

“(Getting honored) felt good, but it was kind of humbling, you know?” Hershberger said.

Carroll Brookman, the docent at the museum, said she appreciates events that celebrate Soldotna’s early settlers.

Brookman’s family came down to the peninsula from Anchorage in 1958, when Brookman was 15 years old. They homesteaded land that was about 8 miles from town.

“Actually, I was outraged,” Brookman said. “I was a 15-year-old girl. My parents were moving me somewhere with no telephone. I was not happy.”

As soon as Brookman graduated high school she moved back to Anchorage, and then in 2001, she came back to the homestead to be with her mother. Now, she lives on her parents’ original homestead.

Brookman said she appreciates the people before her, who had the forethought to preserve Soldotna’s history.

“The people before me that worked so hard to get this historical society going — people like Al, today, and Marge Mullen and my parents,” Brookman said. “It was hard, because in 1980 when they were trying to get everyone to participate in this project they would say ‘what do you mean history? You’re only talking about 1950.’ The fact they realized it needed to be saved was a good thing.”

Brookman said it was nice to see Hershberger recognized for the work he’s done.

“He’s been instrumental to so many things,”

James Gibbs, whose family came to the peninsula when he was 10 years old, in 1953, said it’s satisfying to see events like Progress Days that celebrate early homesteaders.

“I’ve noticed people want to know more,” Gibbs said. “The community is actually pretty interested in what the community used to be like.”

More in News

Sens. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini /Juneau Empire)
State Senate bill would bump per-student funding amount by $1,000

If approved, the legislation would bump state education funding by more than $257 million

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing three oil drilling sites in the region of far northern Alaska. The move, while not final, has angered environmentalists who see it as a betrayal of President Joe Biden’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote green energy. (ConocoPhillips via AP)
Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project

The move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists

Homer Electric Association General Manager Brad Janorschke testifies before the Senate Resources Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Screenshot via Gavel Alaska)
Senate group briefed on future of Cook Inlet gas

Demand for Cook Inlet gas could outpace supply as soon as 2027

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula voices join state debate over school funding

Lawmakers heard pleas from education leaders around Alaska to increase the state’s base student allocation

Tamera Mapes and a client laugh and joke with one another during a free haircut at Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Caring and connecting

Project Homeless Connect offers a variety of services

This September 2011 aerial photo provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, shows the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, effectively vetoed a proposed copper and gold mine in the remote region of southwest Alaska that is coveted by mining interests but that also supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. (Joseph Ebersole/EPA via AP)
EPA blocks Pebble Mine

Pebble called the EPA’s action “unlawful” and political and said litigation was likely

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Statewide hospitalizations decreased slightly

A plow truck clears snow from the Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council approves extra $100k for snow removal

At the end of December, the department was already more than $27,000 over their $100,000 budget for snow removal

Most Read