For nearly a decade, the last full weekend in September has been the time set aside for the annual Country Fair and Crafts Festival at Hancock Shaker Village(HSV), in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The event began life as the Village's Rare Breeds Weekend in the early 1990's, under the direction of then Farm and Garden Manager Eric Johnson. In the mid 1990's it was expanded to its present scope as an old time Country Fair. For a number of years the rare breeds exhibition part of the Fair was hosted by the Heritage Breeds Conservancy (HBC), which was also calling the 1200 acre Village property its home. In early 2005 HBC left for a new location, and the rare breeds exhibit was once again the responsibility of HSV, now under its new Farm and Garden Manager, Wanda Halten.
As had been the case for the previous nine years, Randall cattle, and now the Registry, were on hand for the festivities. Cynthia Creech and Phil and Dianne Lang made the trip from Connecticut with 3 Randall calves and the Registry's display materials. For the Langs, it was the 10th consecutive year of exhibiting Randalls at the event. Acting as able ambassadors for their breed were 3 month old calves "Astilbe", a heifer owned by Cynthia, "Montgomery" (a steer) and "Doris" (a heifer) owned by the Langs. Saturday's weather was beautiful, a bright Fall day in New England, but on Sunday things turned colder, and it rained for part of the day.
As is usual for the Country Fair and Crafts Weekend, the Village was bustling with activity. Fred DePaul, a sheep shearer and dairy farmer, came from Vermont to demonstrate traditional methods of processing small and large grains on the farm, and long-time Village interpreter Charlie Dutelle spent the weekend talking with visitors about hand powered tools, including an occasional scything demonstration. There were numerous exhibitors demonstrating traditional crafts and selling their products, including blacksmithing, sign making, broom making, box making, and much more. There was a Farmers Market tent where local produce and baked goods were sold.
There was a lot to do for the children, with a hay pile to romp in, a rubber chicken toss, crafts and other things, and the Discovery Room was open to teach about farm and craft related activities of the Shakers. All during the day three horse drawn wagons plied the grounds giving rides to all comers. There was a poultry and livestock exhibition by the Hancock Shaker Village 4-H Club, and a parade of farm animals on both afternoons. Throughout the weekend there was an ongoing timber-framing workshop, the end result of which was a completed barn frame. There were sheep in the round barn, with spinning demonstrations and other fiber crafts, and a quilt show on the second floor.
Country Fair and Crafts Festival 2005 Hancock Shaker Village
September 24-25, 2005
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