Down Home Day draws 250 visitors

Published 10:21 am Friday, April 22, 2011

Alexander Smith, 3, pets sheep during Down Home Day in Courtland on Saturday.Ê She is the daughter of Mary Flowers and Steve Smith of Newsoms. MERLE MONAHAN/TIDEWATER NEWS

COURTLAND—Despite threatening weather, the Ag and Forestry Museum/Heritage Village’s seventh Annual Down Home Day drew a “pretty good” crowd Saturday, according to President Bill Vick.

“We estimate there were around 250 people here, counting demonstrators and museum members,” Vick said. “Not as many as we have had, but it could have been worse.”

The four-hour event, which drew people from the Tidewater area and North Carolina, takes folks back in time. The museum and other buildings were filled with old tools and equipment used in farming and other occupations, while several furnished outbuildings, such as a one-room school, doctor’s office, country store, blacksmith’s shop and a home, to name a few, occupy the grounds.

The last to be added was a country church complete with pulpit, pews and organ.

Historical Society President Lynda Updike said Down Home Day is sort of a prelude to Heritage Day in September.

“We had a few new features this time,” Updike said. “One of the most interesting was a cross-cut saw demonstration, requiring two people pulling and pushing the saw through the log. Another was boat building using hand tools, demonstrated by Joe Stutts.”

The event does not have vendors, but tries to feature people who demonstrate different crafts.

“For instance, among the crafters were Ervin Cruey carving birds, John Rudy, showing how to cut out objects with a scroll saw, Bill Whithead, who carves Santas, and Jean Eason demonstrating how to make baskets.

During Down Home Day, the sawmill and gristmill were in operation.

Not all of the corn meal ground during the demonstration was sold; bags are available for $2 at the museum on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The petting zoo, as always, was a big hit, Updike said. Children stood inside the pen and pet a lamb, calf and goats. Later, Updike’s husband, Glenn, demonstrated sheep shearing.

A partial bale of cotton donated by Mark Hodges of Mid-Atlantic Cotton Gin was something new this year. Vick said visitors were asked to guess the weight, but there were no winners.

An announcer from a radio station in Murfreesboro, N.C., sponsored by Air Mechanics strolled the grounds talking to visitors during the afternoon, while, as it has been for years, music was provided by the Jimmy Ricks band, Shiloh Grass.

“All in all, it wasn’t a bad day,” said Vick. “Now we’re looking forward to our big beef barbeque fundraiser.”

The barbeque will be held Saturday, May 7, at Courtland Ruritan Building.