September 22, 2014

Festival puts homestead in spotlight

festJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Dryden Historical Society member Claudia Melin, right, watches the spinning action Saturdaywhile Jean Tyler demonstrates her antique spinning wheel in the
Southworth Homestead’s renovated east wing
at Saturday’s Homestead Harvest Festival in Dryden.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Improvements to a landmark historic building were the focus of the village’s second annual Homestead Harvest Festival this past weekend.
The festival featured food, games, demonstrations and live music in an effort to promote and raise money for the Southworth Homestead and the Dryden Town Historical Society.
The Southworth Homestead, located at 14 North St., was built in 1876 by John Southworth, an entrepreneur, and the house was eventually inherited by Rebecca Simpson, a distant relative and Historical Society trustee. Simpson left the homestead to the society when she died in 2011.
Last year, the east wing of the Southworth Homestead was under repair but this year those touring the property were able to access it. The wing has become an exhibit area for artifacts the Historical Society has collected.
Historical Society member Gina Prentiss said that throughout the year, the organization has been giving tours and opening the home up to visitors while asking for donations. The goal is to raise enough money to make repairs to the facade of the building and to eventually extend the tour to the basement of the house.
“We’ve had huge, generous donations that have made this possible,” Prentiss said. “We hope to make it more open, but it takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of time. There’s so much more we want to research.”
Among those taking a tour of the home were Keith and Grace Stone of Lapeer who said it was their first visit to the festival and they came specifically to see the Southworth Homestead.
“We have a historical home — it was the Stage Coach Inn,” Grace Stone said. “We justwanted to see this house. It was just interesting to see thedifference.”
“We like old places,” Keith Stone added. “It just feels like home, you know? An old house feels like home.”
Prentiss said she is grateful for all of the support the organization has received from the community and she hopes visitors to the Southworth Homestead walk away with a better understanding and appreciation for Dryden’s historic home.
“They knew what they had,” he said. “They knew they had something very special and that’s how we feel about it. We hope that we can spread the word and more people will come and take up the cause of conserving it all.”
Event organizer Bob Jacobson said many of the features and attractions from last year’s inaugural debut were on display again this year. The overall goal of Saturday’s event was to fine tune the elements that will continue to make the the Homestead Festival an annual tradition for residents.
“We’re doing the same things, but with a little more attention to detail,” he said. “I’m hoping that it works for everybody.”

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