Several hundred visitors attend Down Home Day

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

by Merle Monahan

Down Home Day at the Southampton Heritage Village/Agriculture and Forestry Museum Saturday was again a success, drawing an estimated 400 to 450 people, according to museum member Anne Bryant.

“We weren’t surprised,” she said. “Despite the cool temperature, it was a beautiful day and then we had a few new items that we knew would draw a crowd.”

One item Bryant was referring to was a display of model electric trains, brought over from the Museum of Southampton History and reassembled in the main building at the Ag Museum.

Set up to resemble Courtland years ago, there are small buildings, including a train depot, church and stores, tiny trees, signal lights blinking and tracks on which several trains puffing smoke were traveling.

“It was a real crowd-pleaser,” said Bill Vick, museum director, who assisted in the model set-up.

“And I enjoyed it as much as anyone,” he added with a smile.

Speaking of trains, the ones inside the main building were not the only ones at the event. Pastor Hoyle Green of Sunbeam Baptist Church brought over his Sunbeam Express to give the youngsters a ride around the grounds. Bryant said 53 people, children and an occasional adult, rode while the pastor drove the engine during the afternoon.

Another draw for the children was the scavenger hunt, the idea of two newer museum members, Denise Wylodka and Katherine Dallabrida.   

“This was organized to give the children more of a “hands-on” feeling at the event and at the same time, help them learn more about the museum,” said Bryant.

In addition to antique cars and tractors, there was one other vehicle on display — the Rawls Library Bookmobile. Vick said the library system wants to let people know of the services they offer and are making appearances at several events for this reason.

He said the museum committee tries to show visitors how life was years ago. The children, for instance have no idea how their ancestors lived, and even some adults find it hard to believe.

Vick added that during the day, many events went off as planned, including operation of the grist mill and sawmill. Corn bread was even made from the meal that was ground for visitors to taste.

Inside the main building, there were printing press demonstrations, and of course, the electric train exhibit. Around the grounds artists were holding weaving, blacksmithing and fur tanning demonstrations.

The Jimmy Ricks Bluegrass Band provided music and relaxation, while country church music rang from the country church at the other end of the grounds.

Lynda Updike, president of the Southampton County Historical Society, and her husband, Glenn, provided a petting zoo for the kids.

This year, her animals included two sheep, a pot-bellied pig, one goat, a rabbit, five baby ducks, and two bantam chickens, one of which laid an egg.

“The rabbit and ducks were the most popular,” she said, adding that a steady flow of children passed by during the day. “Of course, many of the kids were in awe as Glenn sheared one of the sheep.”

“That reminds me,” she said with a grin. “The sheep who got sheared bleated all night at my back door. I think he was cold after losing all his wool and wanted to come inside to get warm.”

Vick explained that the museum will be open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. now and he hopes to be open during the holidays.

He also hopes to have tours for area school children. Call him at 375-2523.