Heritage Day draws large crowd

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, September 14, 2016

by Melre Monahan
Contributing Writer

Despite high humidity and broiling sunshine, Heritage Day at the Southampton Heritage Village/Agriculture & Forestry Museum drew nearly 1,400 visitors Saturday, according to event director, Anne Bryant.

“It’s hard to get an exact number, because of the number of volunteers and small kids,” she said. “But we were very pleased with the turnout.”

The day began at 9:15 a.m. Following the flag-raising, the Southampton Historical Society’s president, Lynda Updike, spoke about the museum’s beginning 25 years ago.

She said that opening an agriculture museum had been a dream of William Simmons for years. In any event, Simmons was involved from the beginning and became the museum’s first chairman.

Through donations from the Camp Foundations and individuals, as well as the 37 founders who signed a promissory note guaranteeing $1,000 each if the committee was not able to raise enough money to repay that borrowed, volunteers began collecting items for the museum. Workers collected 1,200 items by the time the museum opened, a tiny beginning compared to the museum’s 7,500 artifacts today.

William Howell became the museum’s second chairman. He was followed by Mary Kay Miller and Allen Ray Worrell. Bill Vick currently serves as chairman, as the museum continues to flourish. Heritage Day began 23 years ago.

“So many of our members felt it would be a good way to show people how grandpa and grandma lived,” Updike said. “It is surprising how many people don’t have a clue as to how people lived during ‘the good ole days.’”

As in years past, the grounds were covered with craft booths, featuring everything from A to Z, including apple jacks, jewelry, bird houses, fur tanning and water colors, to flint napping and fabric designs, to name a few.

Various demonstrations, such as lye soap making, butter churning, and lard rendering, to grist mill and saw mill operations were performed during the day.

In the outbuildings, numerous events were in action — story telling in the one-room schoolhouse, hymn singing in the country church and grocery selling in the country store, while the blacksmith fashioned a small iron cross for one onlooker.

Music was provided during the day by the bluegrass band, Shiloh Grass, while visitors roamed the grounds from antique cars and tractors on one end to the grist mill at the other, where a volunteer cooked corn bread samples for tasting.

Activities across the grounds are too numerous to mention, but one event always popular is the petting zoo provided by Updike. One little girl was obsessed with a newly hatched chick, while she grinned and pointed to her pet duck that had just laid an egg.

“I didn’t know that would happen,” she said, “but some kids have never seen it and it’s good for them know.”