22nd annual Heritage Day success

Published 2:53 pm Friday, September 18, 2015

Nottoway Chief Lynette Allston showing off a bowl she had just crafted at Heritage Day. -- MERLE MONAHAN | The Tidewater news

Nottoway Chief Lynette Allston showing off a bowl she had just crafted at Heritage Day. — MERLE MONAHAN | The Tidewater news

By Merle Monahan
Contributing Writer

Despite the high humidity and all-day threat of rain, the 22nd annual Heritage Day at the Southampton Heritage Village and Agriculture and Forestry Museum drew more than 1,400 visitors Saturday.

“We are very pleased with the attendance, considering the circumstances,” said Lyndia Updike, president of the Southampton Historical Society and a long-time member of the museum.

She added, “We had 30 booths this year, and everyone seemed happy. They were satisfied with their sales.”

Updike said a highlight of the day was the ceremony recognizing the William and Helen Howell family for their many contributions to the museum for 26 years. William, who has passed away, served as director of the museum for a number of years.

In fact, he and his wife are credited with cleaning, repairing and cataloging more than 700 of the museum items which are still displayed on the shelves, walls and floor of the building

Because of the Howells’ dedication and unselfish efforts to continuously upgrade the museum over the years visitors today are given the opportunity to see how rural families lived in the early 1900s, said Updike. Authentic buildings, including a family dwelling, an outhouse, corn crib, smokehouse, blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, doctors office, post office, barber shop and even a rural church surround the main building, which is filled with everything from household goods from the 1900s, including a loom, to hand tools and an early printing press.

“So many people, especially our young people, don’t have any idea how their ancestors lived,” said Updike. “We’re extremely proud to be able to help them understand this element of our history.”

All of the events planned went off as scheduled, Updike continued. The sawmill was in operation several times during the day and reports from the grist mill operators said that 800 pounds of corn was ground into corn meal.

“That still wasn’t enough,” Updike said with a grin. “I understand every bag was sold and people were asking for more.”

“Our volunteers worked hard to offer visitors a day of enjoyment,” she added. “There was an abundance of food and plenty of space for people to sit and enjoy their meal while listening to Jimmy Ricks’ bluegrass band, Shiloh Grass.”

At the far end of the grounds, there was a display of antique cars and tractors, while up closer to the main building vendors showed their wares, including pumpkins, handmade children’s clothes, books and baskets.

Around the back of the building, demonstrations of how lye soap is made, rendering of crackling and lard, hominy making and the carving of wooden bowls, were given

Sprinkled in among the demonstrations were face painting for the kids and a petting zoo. Just outside of the zoo pen, Maddie the cow stood patiently for the young ones to try their hand at milking her.

Updike, who has been on hand for all 22 of the Heritage Days, usually brings the animals.

This year there was a pot-bellied pig, goats, sheep, chicks hatching and two hens.

“They are in a pretty good mood until they get hungry,” she said. “I noticed that Herbert (the pig) was a little irritable, so I bought him a bag of popcorn.

“You should have seen him devour it!” she laughed.