Saturday is ‘Down Home Day’

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, April 14, 2010

COURTLAND—Families across the region can abandon their hectic 21st Century lives for a few hours Saturday.

That’s when the Southampton Heritage Village and Agriculture and Forestry Museum is sponsoring its sixth annual “Down Home Day — Y’all Come!”

Lynda Updike, president of Southampton County Historical Society, said the goal of Down Home Day is “to teach young people what life was like during their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.”

“It’s really interesting to see the grandparents bring their grandchildren and to listen to the conversations,” Updike said. “Things a generation or two ago were a whole lot different.”

The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. and will be held at the museum at 26135 Heritage Lane in Courtland. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for school-age children.

“The admission is very reasonable and it’s family fun,” Updike said. “Except for food, once you come through the gate everything is included.”

Jimmy Ricks and his “Shiloh Grass” bluegrass band will provide music, and a 1920s sawmill will be sawing pine logs at the beginning of the afternoon and again later in the day. A restored gristmill will be used to grind meal, with two millstones from an earlier mill, 3 feet across, weighing 1,000 pounds each.

“We’ll be grinding meal, and the meal will be for sale, but we’ll be cooking cornbread for people to sample throughout the afternoon,” Updike said.

Two restored printing presses, operated by Bill Billings and Jimmy Creasey, along with several apprentices, will also be working. A petting zoo of gentle local farm animals will feature goats, lambs, a baby donkey, and a pet rooster. There will also be sheep shearing demonstrations.

New to the event this year are free pony rides from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. courtesy of Blue Fox Stables and blacksmith demonstrations.

Updike said organizers expect 750 to 800 people to attend.

“We hope for more,” she said.

The Rebecca Vaughan House, which played a part in the slave insurrection led by Nat Turner in 1831, is located at the museum. Rick Francis, Southampton County Circuit Court Clerk, will be on hand to educate visitors about the insurrection.

Visitors are welcome to tour the Heritage Village and Agriculture & Forestry Museum and all of its outbuildings, which include a country store, one-room school, country dwelling, doctor’s office, old post office, two outhouses and a recently acquired old kitchen.

Antique cars and tractors will also be on display.

“Hopefully, we have something for everybody,” Updike said.