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Stone Mills event offers old-fashioned farming techniques to celebrate end of summer


LAFARGEVILLE — Scores of revelers celebrated the end of summer with classic cars, pork dinners and old-fashioned, homemade scarecrows at a harvest festival in Stone Mills on Sunday.

“I really liked building the scarecrow,” said Zoe Lee-Davis, 10, who came from Rochester to attend the Northern New York Agricultural Historical Society’s event. “It’s been fun.”

With the help of her parents and grandparents and her sister, Abby, Zoe built a scarecrow that they decided to name Henry. Zoe, a city girl, and Abby, who likes the country, both enjoyed their trip to the north country.

“The only time they get to visit a farm is when they come up here,” said the girls’ grandfather Russell Lee, who lives in Dexter.

Mr. Lee worked on dairy farms until he graduated from high school. His father and two brothers were dairy farmers.

A museum at the site includes displays of old farming implements that Mr. Lee’s father could have used himself. The museum cuts off submissions for exhibits at 1950. Old tractors and balers line one barn; horseshoes and old-fashioned barbed wire ring another.

The purpose of the annual event is to celebrate the end of summer in the same way that family farms have done for generations. It also gives museum-goers a last chance to visit. The museum closes for the season Oct. 1.

“Around here, you have to plan early,” said Dean H. Chrissley, a museum volunteer.

Like the hot irons and manual balers, the scarecrows hearken back to a bygone era of agriculture. Most farms use electronic noises to scare off crows these days, Mr. Chrissley said.

The museum constantly is looking for support to pay for upkeep of the buildings, which house artifacts that still work; for example, there’s a machine that separates wheat from its chaff. The museum’s next project is a revitalization of the church on its grounds. The masonry needs some work, and it has been estimated to cost $250,000, Mr. Chrissley said. The church was built in 1837.

“To lose it would be a real shame,” Mr. Chrissley said.

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