By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As museums adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, The Farmers’ Museum has embraced its outdoor space and turned its living museum into a socially distant outing that still appeals to visitors.
With the rise of the Delta variant, the museum’s staff is replacing its weekend Harvest Festival with “Celebration of Autumn.”
The festivities are designed to spread out fall themes and happenings over a month-long period from Sept. 18 through Oct. 11. The goal is to incorporate cherished activities from the traditional weekend festival into early autumn at the museum.
Museum officials said they hope the changes will limit overcrowding as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
According to Todd Kenyon, director of marketing and communications at The Farmers’ and its sister site, Fenimore Art Museum, activities will give visitors an idea of what fall in the 1800s was like. These will include demonstrations of cider pressing and the shelling and grinding of corn.
Kenyon said the museum’s historical interpreters will demonstrate a variety of other fall activities.
There will be games on the tavern green and various arts and crafts activities.
Weather permitting, the museum will offer horse-drawn wagon rides through its historical village from 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There will also be a hay bale maze and a corn maze.
Kenyon said there will not be vendors this year because of the pandemic.
The exhibit “Brew: New York’s Craft Beer Revival” will be on display in the main barn. According to the museum website, the exhibit will highlight the history of brewing, hops, and barley from the beginning through current day, and will feature insights from New York State brewers.
Kenyon said museum staff first came up with the idea of “Celebration of Autumn” in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic first caused the cancellation of the weekend Harvest Festival. He said combining elements of Harvest Festival into the museum not only promotes safety but provides greater opportunity to interact with interpreters and take in the museum.
“The goal is to provide visitors with a harvest fest feeling every day during this time,” Kenyon said.
“Celebration of Autumn” is just one example of how the museum has adapted.
“Like most museums, The Farmers’ Museum adapted to the pandemic as best it could,” said Paul D’Ambrosio, executive director of both museums. “We took full advantage of being an open-air venue by bringing the visitor experience outdoors, closing off confined spaces and maintaining an overall high level of safety for everyone. In the future, we will continue to meet and exceed the safety needs of our constituency.”
According to the museum website, The Clark family first purchased what is now the Farmers’ Museum in the 1870s.
In 1918, Edward Severin Clark enhanced the space in order to showcase his prized herd of cattle. The Farmers’ Museum first opened to the public in 1944.
Its barn, creamery, and herdsmen’s cottage are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
D’Ambrosio said he hopes the weekend Harvest Festival can return in fall 2022.
“We are determined to bring back our much loved and traditional Harvest Festival as soon as it is safe to do so,” he said. Meanwhile, he hopes visitors enjoy this year’s fall activities.
More information on the event will be posted at www.farmersmuseum.org.
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