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Latest TAUNY exhibit focus on north country dairy farms

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CANTON - TAUNY celebrates Canton’s Winterfest with the opening of a new exhibit: “Every Single Day: Life on North Country Dairy Farms.”

The exhibit, which opens at 10 a.m. Feb. 8, features photographs from 15 farms taken by internationally renowned photographer Martha Cooper and excerpts from interviews with more than 20 farmers and employees.

“We wanted to use the farmers’ own words,” says Hannah Harvester, who led the research and curated the exhibit. “We include a variety of perspectives, especially on growth and change in the dairy industry.”

Research and documentation for the exhibit were carried out by TAUNY staff. Program Director Hannah Harvester and fellow folklorists Jill Breit (TAUNY executive director) and Varick Chittenden (special projects director) interviewed 40 farmers, family members, employees, and others in St. Lawrence, Lewis, Franklin, Jefferson counties. Farms ranged in size from herds of 35 to 1,200 milking cows.

“We wanted to offer a glimpse at the complexity of dairy farming today,” Harvester said. “Farming is a really particular kind of livelihood - farmers tend to work closely with their families, close to home, they’re working with live animals and big forces like the weather. One minute they’re wrenching boulders out of the ground and the next minute they’re helping birth a calf. They face huge challenges like a milk pricing system that’s totally out of their control and a shortage of labor, but when they talk about what they love about farming you can see why they stay in it.”

The documentation project and exhibit were funded by an Archie Green Fellowship, awarded by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The original documentary materials generated will be part of the American Folklife Center’s Archie Green Community Documentation Collection, housed in the Library of Congress.

An opening reception will be held at The TAUNY Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 8. Researchers will be on hand to answer questions as will some of the farmers featured in the exhibit. Refreshments will be served, including cheese generously donated by Agri-Mark.

TAUNY is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of the north country.

Beginning Feb. 1, The TAUNY Center, located at 53 Main St. in Canton, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit www.TAUNY.org.

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