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Published: Friday, 7/11/2003

Life on the farm Sauder Village lets visitors give it a try

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Visitors can grab a handful of history tomorrow at the 14th annual Summer on the Farm at Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Churn butter. String green beans. Stuff a straw tick mattress. Scrub clothes. Flail wheat.

And if you get worn out, you can take a break from your farm chores in Founder's Hall, where the 20th annual fiddle contest will take place with musicians ranging in age from 8 to 82.

“What we try to do here is bring a sense of fun to history,” says Andi Erbskorn, curator of education at Sauder Village. Visitors learn by experiencing how people lived 100 or 150 years ago, promoting an understanding they can't get from books, television, or the Internet, she adds.

Sauder Village offers three farm days every year, in the spring, summer, and fall. Activities reflect what would be happening at that time of year on a farm in the early 20th century.

Ms. Erbskorn says she started the farm days years ago because people wanted to try things they saw being demonstrated in the historic village. “We didn't have a way to let people try these on a daily basis, so we decided to take one day in each season and let people try them. We started it originally for children and found out quickly that adults enjoy it as much as the children. It has become one of our most popular events,” she says.

“The fun thing for us is we do try to make it a teaching opportunity,” Ms. Erbskorn says.

Special events at tomorrow's farm day include a weaving demonstration by Linda Ploch of Kansas, who uses natural materials such as reeds and cattails to construct mats in Native American style. Also tomorrow, Sally Snyder of Defiance will sign and read from her children's book about Fort Defiance, Hold The Fort, throughout the day.

Summer on the Farm runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fiddle contest begins at 12:30 p.m. in Founder's Hall with a warm-up band, Just Bluegrass from Lexington, Ohio.

Unofficially, the fiddling will start shortly after the Sauder Village gates open, says Claire Morton, special events coordinator. Competitors will be practicing and warming up in the village before they take the stage at 1 p.m.

Fiddlers age 16 and under will compete in the student division. After that, the adults will have their chance. Prizes are awarded to the top five in each division.

“This year we have more new names than usual,” Ms. Morton says, adding that many of the first-timers are in the youth category.

“Each fiddler cannot exceed a five-minute playing time,” Ms. Morton says. Each plays two songs - a waltz and a hoedown of the musician's choice.

“It shows the whole span of ages in a very fun environment,” she adds. “Everyone has a good time.”

Farm days also offer an opportunity for visitors to see Sauder Village's new permanent addition, “Natives & Newcomers: Ohio in Transition, 1803-1839.”

The two-acre expansion, which opened June 14, depicts the life of Native Americans and European settlers who inhabited the Great Black Swamp.

Summer on the Farm takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Sauder Village, 22611 State Rt. 2, Archbold, Ohio. Admission is $11.50 for adults and $5.50 for students. Information: 1-800-590-9755.



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