Fall Ag Festival at Ross Mansion

By Carol Kinsley

The farm community, history buffs and antique aficionados are joining forces in the planning of a Fall Ag Festival at the Governor Ross Mansion in Seaford in October, part of a year-long celebration of the 150th year of the mansion. The event has spilled over into a whole week of festivities and special exhibits at the library for five nights preceding the Oct. 23 and 24 outdoor festival. On Monday, Oct. 18, Claudia Leister will review the history of the Ross Mansion, on Oct. 19 there will be a special viewing of the film "Food Inc." about corporate agriculture; on Wednesday, Oct. 20, Dr. Bill McGowan, Extension community development agent with the University of Delaware, will discuss "Where Have Our Farmers Gone?" Thursday will feature another movie, "For Richer For Poorer." Viewers may be interested to know the corn seen growing in the fields for this movie was grown in a greenhouse by a farmer based in Hurlock, Md., and transplanted out of season. Friday, Oct. 22, will feature local long-time farmers gathered in a mock-up "old country store" around a game of checkers to relate stories of their youth.

A corn maze planted in anticipation of the festival also will open early. Visitors may venture through the maze on the mansion grounds all weekends in October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The Boys and Girls Club will conduct a scary maze on Oct. 29 and 30.

The festival itself will be opened by Gov. Jack Markell on Saturday morning, accompanied by Miss Delaware, Delaware Ag Secretary Ed Kee and other ag officials. The program includes Charlie Paparella of WBOC, Tony Windsor, a 4-H and FFA quiz program, the Whirl Away Square Dancers, Buddy Millman, a local talent showcase and music by the Out of the Blue band.

An Old Country Church Service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, featuring the Gospel Gents, and followed by Craig Banks and the Good News Band. Tony Windsor and Buddy Millman will return and Ag Pageant Queens will be introduced. After a Tribute to Country Music, Then and Now, the Bo Dickerson Band will entertain.

The Nanticoke Indians will do a presentation on what they ate during the time of the Ross Mansion. Children will find lots to do, from Victorian games sponsored by the Seaford Historical Society to the Farm Service Agency's Farm Olympics (as presented at the Delaware State Fair) and a scavenger hunt which will require, according to Ron Breeding, "a little science, some history and a whole lotta ag." Breeding and his wife, Sue, are co-chairs of the community planning committee.

The mansion grounds will be scattered with demonstrations of such skills as spinning, broom making, blacksmithing, quilting, soap making, chair canning and shingle making. Artisans are invited to display their wares and food vendors, especially those offering old-fashioned treats, are encouraged to participate. The First State Tractor Club has been invited to display and there may even be a steam engine or two available for viewing, along with displays of other antiques and a tent of exhibits by commodity groups representing today's agricultural products grown in the region.

Vendors may call Breeding for details on reserving a space for the two-day event at (302) 629-3964.

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