Fall Ag Festival shaping up

By Carol Kinsley

The Fall Ag Festival to be held Oct. 23 and 24 in celebration of the Governor Ross Mansion's 150th year is shaping up to be more fun than a county fair set back in time a century or more. Ron Breeding, who co-chairs the community planning committee with his wife Sue, says the festival will offer "a little science, some history and a whole lotta ag!" The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The mansion, then situated on a 1,389-acre plantation, was built in 1859 by William Henry Harrison Ross, a Laurel native who had served as Delaware governor from 1851 to 1855. The rebuilt log slave quarters on the property are the only remaining slave quarters this far north. Located on North Pine Street, the brick Italian villa-style structure has as a new neighbor the Seaford public library.

The grounds will be filled with entertainment for young and old, including demonstrations by artisans spinning yarn, making brooms or shingles, caning chairs and blacksmithing. Two styles of basket making will be demonstrated and two groups will be quilting. One man is coming all the way from Painter, Va., to grind corn the old-fashioned way.

Antique cars and tractors will be displayed, as well as a collection of old washing machines. The Spade and Trowel Garden Club of Seaford will be selling pumpkins full of flowers and taking orders for its annual Holiday Greens Sale.

Bring the family! There will be lots of hands-on as well as educational exhibits for the children. Victorian-era games will be staged as well as ring toss, a corn box, straw rolling and a wagon race. Hoober Inc. will hold a pedal tractor pull at 2 p.m. Saturday. Local 4-Hers are bringing farm animals for petting, the goal association will bring goats, of course, and the equestrian club will bring horses (Sunday only). A scavenger hunt will create a friendly competition among three school districts, but any child 12 or under may participate and will be eligible for a drawing for a basket of goodies and donated prizes.

If square dancing, clogging and all the other activities make you hungry or thirsty, don't rush off. Food vendors will be on hand with pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, apple dumplings, hot Belgium waffles and plenty of beverages, including apple cider.

The festivities will be kicked off Saturday at 10 a.m. by Gov. Jack Markell, Miss Delaware, Delaware Ag Secretary Ed Kee and others. On stage throughout both days a number of bands are scheduled. Saturday's lineup includes Charlie Paparella of WBOC, Tony Windsor, the Whirl Away Square Dancers, Buddy Millman, the Out of the Blue bluegrass band and a "Seaford's Got Talent Showcase" featuring Ronnie Allen, Mikki Maden, Jack Mears, Annie Darden, Norman Poole, Nick Grassett, Gerald Butler, Theresa Allen and sisters Claire Melvin and Phyllis Pearson.

Sunday's activities will begin with an Old Country Church Service on stage at 10, featuring The Gospel Gents. Craig Banks and the Good News Band will follow at 11 and Tony Windsor will be back on stage at noon. Ag Pageant Queens will be introduced at 12:30, will Buddy Millman appearing again at 1 p.m. Brett Jones, Darren Jones, Tom Kaufman, Bob Allen, Theresa Allen and Bill West will then perform a "Tribute to Country Music, Then & Now." The Bo Dickerson Band will wrap up the afternoon.

Activities have spilled over to the library where there will be cooking demonstrations and discussions with young (new) and would-be farmers about their interest in agriculture.

Special events are scheduled every evening of the preceding week, including movies, a history of the mansion and a discussion of "Where Have our Farmers Gone?" On Friday, old-timers will gather around a game of checkers, as they might have in an old country store, and tell 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.

Admission is free; however, donations are appreciated, and if you fill out a card and drop it into the old butter churn, you will be eligible for a drawing for a basket valued at more than $500. The Seaford Historical Society, which asked a committee of community volunteers to make arrangements for the festival, will be selling t-shirts and hats. For more information, call Breeding at (302) 629-3964.

Seaford Referendum Monday

A public referendum on the proposed annexation of the Moose Lodge property on alternate U.S. 13 will be Monday, Oct. 18. Voting will take place in city hall from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Members of the lodge are requesting annexation in order to be able to hook up to the city's water system. The building is being renovated after part of it collapsed this winter during a snowstorm and the state fire marshal's office is requiring that a sprinkler system be installed. Without access to city water, the lodge would have to put up a water tower.

Residents of the city, as well as property owners, are allowed to vote. For additional information, call city hall, 629-9173.

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