more we hear about families who include touring significant family/ancestor
places as part of their reunion. This is a particularly special
activity when many members are attending from out-of-town and
rarely have the opportunity to visit. These would include homes/homesteads,
farms, neighborhoods, schools, churches and cemeteries. Some families
even do re-enactments in conjunction with the tours. We are very
interested in learning about your history tour, e-mail us!
Threshermen's reunions offer trips through time The annual Threshermen's Reunion in Pontiac, Michigan, pays tribute to earlier days of farming and keeping the past alive. Highlights include a restored one-room schoolhouse, Case and Ford tractors and equipment, displays of threshing machines and steam engines, and demonstrations of sawmills, threshing and bailing. Future Farmers of America groups play an active role in this reunion.
They weren't looking for a needle in the haystack in Perrysburg Township, Ohio, but children at the Five Point Steam Threshers' 44th annual reunion climbed, dove and jumped into one while nearby old-fashioned threshing machines separated wheat grain from the stalk. Leroy Lashaway, Perrysburg Township, Ohio, cleared land and played host to the free event, which featured an assortment of tractors, threshers, and other farm equipment.
Some people were riveted by demonstrations, while others preferred the uniquely prepared old-fashioned food. Steam from one engine ran through a line to heat an enormous vat of bean soup and steam two barrels of corn. One Perrysburg Township resident said he enjoys “getting back to the roots - a bunch of city folks looking at the farmers.”
As for the draw to old machines in a technologically advanced world, visitors may be nostalgic or just interested in the fact that some of the old machines, such as a 1938 tractor, still run.
From stories by Karen Blatter in the Bloomington Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois and Lindsey Mergener in the Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio.
Take the kids
Visiting a farm that’s open to the public offers kids a close-up view. Most farmers are happy to answer questions and welcome help with the chores (somehow more fun at a farm than home). Ask about special demonstrations such as milking or egg-collecting.
Barnyard etiquette: wear rubber boots or washable high-top sneakers if it has rained. Remind kids to ask permission from the farmer before approaching or petting his animals. Take home fresh berries, fruits, vegetables and eggs.
Country delights Many areas tout their agriculture to the point of even promoting agritourism--as is done by Sonoma County, California. Think wine … but also think cheese, heirloom tomatoes, honey, herbs and other tasty delights. After all, this is the area where horticulturist Luther Burbank made his home and introduced more than 800 new varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and hundreds of ornamental plants. Santa Rosa’s Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, offers tours where you can follow Burbank’s career with your own self-guided tour. Sonoma County Farm Trails provides an essential guide to area farms open to the public. Contact 800-380-5392; www.sonomacounty.com.
Back to Basics reunions
Many of the farm bed-and-breakfasts in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are open year-round, so you can experience all seasons; planting, growing, harvesting and preserving the crop. Farm bed-and-breakfasts offer hearty breakfasts including fresh garden produce and eggs. You’ll find interesting learning experiences combined with outdoor beauty and the unique culture of rural Lancaster County, where much of the soil is still tilled with horses and mules. If you’re lucky, you may even witness the birth of the farm’s newest calf!
A story in USA Today states that more and more Americans are seeking simple pleasures of the farm for vacation destinations. Pennsylvania Dutch Country has many ways for visitors to relax while learning about agriculture and simple life on the farm.
Nowhere is agritourism more evident than in the huge cornfields developed by Cherry-Crest Farm and its Amazing Maize Maze. Here, visitors wander through an enormous maze cut into a five-acre cornfield. Every year, this cornfield maze challenges visitors of all ages while offering a bit of insight into Pennsylvania history.
Join the farm hands in a morning of gathering eggs, milking cows, and feeding calves.
Call 800-PA DUTCH (723-8824); www.padutchcountry.com. Or contact the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association at 888-856-6622; www.pafarmstay.com.
Here’s the Mega Maze
Davis' Farmland, Sterling, Massachusetts, is part of a seven-generation family farm, operating since 1846. They feature developmentally appropriate discovery play and learning for children ages one to eight and a farmpark called Davis' Mega Maze. This world-class field Maze provides adventure and fun for adults and kids of all ages. Visit www.funfarm.net or contact 978-422-MOOO (6666).
Harvest time Harvest Festival at Barrington Living History Farm, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park in Washington, Texas, is a step back in time. Watch them process grains and fibers for future use on the farm using authentic 1850s harvesting techniques. History comes alive as you watch what life was like 150 years ago. Contact the Farm at 936-878-2213; www.birthplaceoftexas.com.
Agritourism: harvest of fun
Maryland farmers open their farms, dairies, cornfields and vineyards for visitors to experience rural life. The Maryland Department of Agriculture has listed farms, orchards, farmers markets, Christmas tree farms and farm fishing ponds. Contact www.marylandagriculture.com for agritourism businesses or Maryland Office of Tourism, 800-719-5900, for farm tours.
Out with the “old,” in with the Settlers reunion
It is definitely an “old” event, but don't call it that.
The Winona County, Minnesota, Annual County Settlers meeting celebrates their colorful and historic past. Just as when the first settlers formalized the event in 1861, it is for friends and descendants of Winona County's early families to get together and reminisce, said Association President Bob Bambenek. It is a continuation of an agricultural tradition where, in late winter, families socialize together before the long hours of another season of fieldwork begins.
There is lots of music, and Future Farmers of America (FFA) members serve the meal and present a picture collection of past reunions and video of the previous year's gathering. The mayor and a county commissioner speak and there is a memorial to members who have died during the past year. Bambenek says, “Well over 100 members are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and we keep them on the mailing list.”
From a story by David Krotz in the Winona Daily News, Winona, Minnesota.