Replicas of The Roundhouse, built in 1899 were everywhere at this year’s Franklin County Fair which celebrated its 161st anniversary. This edible version was a prize in the raffle supporting a major renovation of the roundhouse. It is a beautiful icon of the Fair which has shown off the handiwork and skills of farmers and residents of the county for 110 years. Nowadays there is a midway with games and rides, but for me, the heart of the Fair is the Roundhouse, the cattle and sheep barns, the Youth Building – and the fundraising booths set up by various civic institutions to sell raffle tickets or sell pie or hot dogs.
I don’t can much anymore, but I think there is nothing more beautiful than a pantry full of home canned jams, jellies, pickles, fruits and vegetables.
And where do all the fruits and veggies in those jars come from? From the labor and skill of gardeners like the one in this quilt made by Joanne Glier. I don’t look quite so picturesque when I’m working in my garden, but when I look at this quilt I think about the ways I am connected to women, and men, in their gardens, and even when one of them puts aside the spade and rake to sit and puts artistic and needle skills to work.
Some gardeners just want to have fun! They couldn’t even get these giant pumpkins into The Roundhouse. Earlier this year I got lots of advice about growing giant pumpkins.
There is a lot of history at the Fair, and proof that timeless skills endure. But there is also proof that we are looking forward. This handsome model of an energy efficient house is the work of a 12 year old. The energy saving technologies are all documented in the accompanying paper.
At the same time, traditional skills are being passed down to the young generation who are learning care and patience, as in this prize winning quilt in the Youth Building. Last week I attended the first meeting of the season of the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club where the display was of needlework projects, historic and current. We got to hear stories about girls working with their grandmothers. learning to knit and quilt, all the while maintaining strong family and community connections.
The Franklin Count Fair celebrated its 110th anniversary. Closer to home we celebrated another anniversary.
The Heath Gourmet Club celebrated its anniversary. 28 years of serving ourselves. I tried to get an official portrait, but the crowd was already on their way to the dining room at Paul and Wendy’s and weren’t willing to waste much more time. Pulled Pork, heirloom tomatoes with Sheila’s goat mozzerella, and Cowboy Salad were waiting. Two desserts. Heavenly lemon meringue pie and pound cake with local berries. The theme this time was generally ‘favorite summer dishes.’