Horses and harvest celebrated at John R. Park Homestead


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Taking a step back in time, visitors to the John R. Park Homestead Sunday immersed themselves in harvest activities that pioneers would have done more than 150 years ago.

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“I love learning how to make apple juice and making corn husk dolls,” said Tecumseh resident Marijana Carmickle, who along with partner Ryan Bisnett brought their children Cameron Brown, 6, Ava Bisnett, 5, and Ben Bisnett, 2, to the homestead’s annual Horses and Harvest Festival.

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“Definitely we’re going to be doing some of these activities at home,” Carmickle said. “Super simple yet very entertaining. I loved it.

“It’s a beautiful day. The county has so much to offer. I think I like the more simplistic way of life.”

As visitors toured the picturesque property on the shore of Lake Erie, volunteer Paul Hager demonstrated sausage making.

Kids learn how to make apple cider at the Harvest and Horses Festival at the John R. Park Homestead, on Sunday, Oct.  2, 2022.
Kids learn how to make apple cider at the Harvest and Horses Festival at the John R. Park Homestead, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Hager said in the fall, pioneers slaughtered farm animals and one way of preserving the meat was to make sausages that they smoked in the homestead’s smokehouse.

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The sausages were hung in a dry spot in the house to be eaten all winter.

A nearby icehouse stored ice from Lake Erie in sawdust from the property’s sawmill and straw from the fields.

“It would keep until well into the summer,” Hager said.

Kristin Ives, curator at the homestead, said horses and harvest went hand in hand during pioneer times.

Sunday was the 24th annual event held at the homestead, built in 1842 by farmer and businessman John R. Park.

Julis Langpeter puts on a blacksmith demonstration at the Harvest and Horses Festival at the John R. Park Homestead, on Sunday, Oct.  2, 2022.
Julis Langpeter puts on a blacksmith demonstration at the Harvest and Horses Festival at the John R. Park Homestead, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

“For the pioneer family, small families did subsistence farming,” Ives said. “You would produce food to keep yourselves and your livestock going through the rest of the year.

“Harvest is the busiest time in terms of work and getting those crops off (the fields), storing them and preserving them to ensure survival through the winter.”

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There were also hands-on activities for visitors – apple butter and biscuit making in the kitchen of the homestead, sausage pressing, apple cider making in the orchard, blacksmithing, weaving and woodworking demonstrations, tours, toys and games and scary stories.

Sarah Parks provided pony rides and visitors could view everything from a newborn miniature horse to an Olympian, Little Romance, who participated in Rio in 2016.

“All of those horsemen volunteer their time,” Ives said. “And I can’t tell you how grateful we are.

“It’s a really unique chance to see a variety of horses up close and learn a little bit about them.”

jkotsis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/KotsisStar

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