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Farm Family Combines History with Good Times

When Ivan and Audrey Stokes, Frazeysburg, Ohio, were planning a family reunion last fall, they decided to make it a combination reunion and family history celebration by staging an old time harvest-type farm festival in order to give their children and grand-children a glimpse of what farm life was like for their ancestors.
Ivan grew up in a family with 9 brothers and sisters but he's the only one still on the farm. Everyone agreed it would be a good idea to pass on the pleasant memories and traditions they had all acquired as children to the next generation.
Over 70 people showed up to make apple butter, butcher a hog, cook meals over an open fire, ride on a horse-pulled wagon, and square dance by the barn.
"We wanted it to be as realistic as possible, so Ivan brought in a privy from an-other farm and hung a lantern inside and propped a Sears & Roebuck catalog in the corner."
Families camped in a nearby field. At the farm, Ivan erected a rustic slab-wood and canvas open-ended shed near the place where they planned to make apple butter and do the cooking. Boards placed across bales of straw served as tables and bales were also used as chairs. Iron and copper kettles retrieved from a storage shed were used for cooking lard and boiling down apple butter.
On Friday, the chidren peeled apples. Saturday morning, everyone was up early, digging a pit and placing 40 lbs. of beef in it and building a fire on top to have it roasted by suppertime. They also cooked breakfast by placing sheets of stainless steel over the fire and fixing a meal of Indian bread, bacon, and corn meal pancakes.
People took turns chopping wood to heat water to scald the hog, boil down the apple butter, and to cook the ham and bean soup for dinner. Although they butchered only one hog, everyone had a chance to tend the fire, scrape away the bristles, and turn the sausage grinder. Later in the day, someone hooked up a team of Percherons and took the children for a hay ride.
That evening there was a family talent show followed by a square dance under the stars.
On Sunday, church was held on the lawn, lead by one of Ivan's brothers who's a Baptist minister. Later, everyone gathered up their share of the sausage and apple butter and headed home.
"It was a living history lesson for the children and a nostalgic time for the adults. We all enjoyed it," says Audrey.


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1993 - Volume #17, Issue #5