Friday, October 31, 2008

10th Annual Iams Homestead Pioneer Harvest Fest

Our Harvest Fest Committee set a goal of making the 10th Annual Iams Homestead Pioneer Harvest Fest the best fest ever. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Between 400 and 500 people joined us for our annual farm fest. The weather was great; the crowds participated in many of the events; and a good time was had by all.

Many tractors were on display thanks to the owners who came out to support us. the featured tractor this year was a 1929 Cases 25-45 from the Flora Family collection. Each year Bruce Flora brings a tractor for us to showcase and as usual the tractor was a hit with the crowd.

The Chili chefs, Tony and Regina Kleinhenz and Claude Keeling outdid themselves this year and the chili was a major hit with the crowd. The smell of chili cooking over an open fire combined with the smell of roasted hot dogs drew a larger crowd than usual and we ran out of chili very early--the first time ever. Over 20 gallons of chili was prepared and consumed by the crowd. I guess we will have to get a larger kettle for next year.

Each year Tony Kleinhenz and his work crew tills the ground; plants the tobacco; harvest the tobacco; and hang it in the barn to dry. This year we were able to add a demonstration of preparing tobacco for tying into hands and placing into a tobacco press thanks to the efforts of Joe Sowder. Unfortunately, our tobacco crop was almost totally blown down by Hurricane Ike so Joe could only demonstrate placing the tobacco on one stick . He did manage to use some of the tobacco from previous years harvest to demonstrate tying of hands and placing into the tobacco press. All the tools used to include the tobacco press came from Joe's family's farm in Kentucky. We hope to expand this exhibit and demonstration for next year. Joe has agreed to work with us again so there will be many improvements on the exhibit for next year.

We also added a blacksmith demonstration to the harvest fest this year. A good blacksmith was critical in most early farming communities and we thought that our younger generation should acquire an appreciation for the work being done. We did not think we would have a demonstration because the individual who was scheduled for the demonstration cancelled. Thanks to Larry P. Gindlesperger, owner of Eagle & Anvil Forge who volunteered on such a short notice, we were able to have a great demonstration. This was the first time I saw a blacksmith work and it truly was an exciting event. We do play on having a blacksmith at our next event, so come to our function the second Saturday of October next year to get a first hand look at a blacksmith at work.

Another popular event at the harvest fest is making apple butter. Ruth Lange who makes the best apple butter anywhere was on vacation and we had to get replacement cooks. Thanks to Ken Ullery and Bill Greenaway, the show did go on. They did a fantastic job and the delicious smell of fresh cooked apple butter was almost more than a hungry person could take. Fortunately, Ruth Lange left samples from last year's apple butter for us to sample. More than one visitor said this was the best apple butter they had ever tasted and I would have to agree. Come next year for a taste of this year's apple butter. You will not be disappointed.

The Balloon Man and his helper were back again blowing up balloons for the children. I think Harley and Alma Human enjoyed blowing up the balloons for the children more than the children enjoyed the balloons. We had more children this year than usual and the balloons went fast. Harley also conducted another raffle this year for one of his brass cow bells. This was the second year for his bell raffle and the second year I bought many tickets. As usual, I did not win. As long as Harley has the raffle, I will try to win the bell.

Thanks to Walt Fidder and his grandson, we also had a model train display. Trains were an important part of Trotwood's history and the Historical Society operates a Depot Museum during the summer months. Model trains are also a hit with most children and this may be one of the reasons we had more children at the harvest fest this year than ever. Walt has said that they will be back next year. I certainly hope so. I think I probably enjoyed the display more than the children.

One of the most popular events at the harvest fest is the hayrides. Each year Bruce Kettelle brings his wagon and tractor and provides hayrides throughout the day. Thanks to Bruce's "gift of gab" and knowledge of local history, the hayrides are not only fun, but very educational. Bruce, along with Ken Ullery and Phillip Kleinhenz also provided hayrides at Trotwood's annual Halloween Family Fun Walk. Over 700 people took hayrides during a two hour period.

This year Boyd and Geri Hastings set up displays and demonstrations of wool spinning and felt making. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the displays. I will check with others who attended the harvest fest to see if they took any pictures. If they did, I will add to the blogspot.

The premier event of the harvest fest is the corn harvest. Each year Tony Kleinhenz and his work crew uses an old corn binder to harvest the corn. The bundles are then placed in shocks until the day of the harvest fest. The shocks are then loaded on a wagon and taken to the husker shredder. The stalks are run through the husker shredder where the corn is removed from the stalk and the husk is removed from the corn. The corn is placed in a corn crib and the stalks and husks are chopped up for disposal or saved to use as feed for farm animals.

The corn is stored in the corn crib and the Society sells ear corn throughout the year. The corn is $7.00 for a large bag (approximately 1 bushel). Anyone interested in buying corn can contact me at 937-837-5387 or email You may also contact Ralph Kuester at 937-837-5387 or email

In the early days of our country, there were no supermarkets to go to in the winter to buy you food. Families had to preserve their food for the winter. One way of doing this was to dry the food. In the Iams House Museum each farm fest a demonstration of corn drying is held. You can also get a taste of the reconstituted dried corn from the previous year's dried corn. When properly prepared, the corn is very tasty. We also had a special display of ball canning jars on display in the kitchen. The jars will remain on display until the museum closes for the winter on November 30.

Sue Stiffler and her work group did a fantastic job with the country store this year. All items on sale have been donated by Society members and individuals from the local community. A favorite item in the store is the homemade pies and other baked goods. The pies sold out very quickly. I am sure we will have them again next year so if you want to buy a pie, come early--they do not last long. If you did not get a chance to visit the country store, all is not lost. You can also come and shop in the Kris Kringle Shop. The shop will be open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM December 4, 5, 6 and December 11, 12, and 13.

There were other activities not listed. However, I have included a slide show with pictures of the activities that were held during the Farm Fest.

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