By Rob Montana
With an eye firmly on its past, Dryden is showcasing its history this weekend during Homestead Heritage Day.
Taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, October 7, at the historic Southworth House, located at 14 North St. in Dryden, the day will be filled with information and demonstrations. The design of Homestead Heritage Day is very much a nod to the town’s past.
“We want this to have a feel of a 19th century agricultural fair,” said Gina Prentiss, vice president of the Dryden History Society, which is presenting the event. “There was an agricultural fair in Dryden from 1855 to 1917, so the last one was 100 years ago. It took place just east of where the town barns are now, on land that was bought from John Southworth.
“People had their goods judged, there were animals, people could see the latest inventions for labor-saving, those are things that were shown there,” she added. “They had a huge crowd for years. We hope to have ours be like that one, but a little different.”
This is the third year of the event, but the first to see it benefit from Tompkins County Tourism funding. That, Prentiss said, allowed organizers to add to Heritage Day’s festivities.
“We’re having horse-drawn wagon rides, and the Cortland Old-Timers Band is performing,” she said.
There will be tours of the Southworth House, taking place at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.; a donation of $5 is requested for people taking the tour.
“They’re guided tours, with the guides giving a little bit of background as people go through the house,” said Prentiss. “We ask for the donation, because it’s a fundraiser to keep the house going.
“We like to limit the tour groups to about 12 in each, so everybody gets to see the things on display and we’re not too jammed inside,” she added.
There will be historical exhibits and demonstrations on display throughout the day. Pamela Poulin will portray, in historic dress, Seneca Falls suffragist Amelia Bloomer – the first woman to own a newspaper – for whom the dress reform of short dress and trousers is named. “Bloomers” changed men’s perception of women forever. History demonstrations include wool spinning, chair caning, blacksmithing and sheep shearing.
There will also be kids game, and a selection of old toys available to try out. And, the Cornell Raptor program will be on hand with birds of prey.
“People can get up real personal and close,” Prentiss said of the Raptor program. “You really get to know a lot about the birds of prey.”
There will be various community group and craft booths set up during the day as well.
“We’ll have good food from the Dryden Community Center Cafe, of course,” Prentiss said. “The Historical Society tries to always participate in everything that is going on in the community, and we always try to invite other organizations in the community to take part in our events.”
There is a little bit of something for everyone who comes out – and the prices are right.
“It’s a very low key, very free day,” said Prentiss.