October 7, 2013
Dryden shows off history
Inaugural harvest festival showcases Southworth Homestead
DRYDEN — Local residents and organizations turned out for food, fun and music Saturday in support of the Dryden Town Historical Society at the first Homestead Harvest Festival.
Bob Jacobson, who plays a role in many community events, said he wanted to bring an event to Dryden with the same enjoyable atmosphere as traditional harvest festivals while seizing the opportunity to raise money for a local organization.
“The main point is to have a community event that brings people together to celebrate our area and to draw attention to the Southworth Homestead,” Jacobson said.
The Southworth Homestead on Route 13 in Dryden was built in 1876 by John Southworth, a Dryden entrepreneur who amassed his wealth through land deals.
The house was eventually inherited by distant relative and Historical Society trustee Rebecca Simpson.
David Smith, president of the Dryden Town Historical Society, said Simpson left the homestead to the historical society when she died in 2011.
The organization has been working since last year to restore and renovate one of the village’s oldest homes.
“We feel very fortunate to have it left to the Historical Society,” Smith said, “We’re in the process of restoring the east wing. When we’re finished, we’re going to move the Historic Society to the homestead.”
The Historic Society operates out of the History House at 36 W. Main St. and plans to move by the end of the year.
Bluegrass music from the Mathews Family Tradition had residents singing and dancing beneath a large tent erected in front of the Southworth Homestead as local organizations carried on fundraising efforts and children played games on the lawn.
Next door at the First Presbyterian Church, the Dryden Thimble Therapy Quilters were holding one of two quilt shows, the second taking place at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Phyllis Smith and Mary Anne Pearce, two of the founding members of the group, said although Thimble Therapy has made a lot of things to donate to charity, this is the first time the group has actually held a show to sell crafts.
They said donations from the quilt shows would be given to the Historical Society and that all 34 members of the crafting group were excited to see so many people willing to see the group’s work and to support the homestead.
“We’re really very pleased with the turnout,” Smith said.
Back in the tent, Sheryl Russo was dancing with her daughter, Cherise, 10, as the band continued to play through the afternoon. Cherise said she was having so much fun she could not decide what she enjoyed doing the most.
“I’m not sure, I like a lot of things,” Cherise said. “I watched the pie-eating contest, did the candy corn toss and I watched them shear the sheep.”
Sheryl Russo said she was also having fun and mostly liked how the festival was not as hectic and fast-paced as other larger events can be, which is one of the reasons she plans to come back next year.
“It’s very low-key so it’s more enjoyable,” Sheryl Russo said. “It’s a good atmosphere; you can feel the celebration.”
Jacobson said he thought it was important for Dryden residents to keep its history alive and hopes the Homestead Harvest Festival is something that continues to bring people together long after the Southworth Homestead is restored.
“If we want our community to remain healthy, we have to keep our core healthy,” Jacobson said. “I hope that this is one of several to come that brings people together.”
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