After two years without the in-person event, Homestead Hayfest was filled with smiling kids churning butter and sipping apple cider. While enjoying the festivities, Newton families also learned about the 19th century.
In the backyard of the Jackson Homestead and Museum, Historic Newton offered apple cider pressing, ice cream, candle dipping, and a community atmosphere for Newtonians to spend time with friends, family, and neighbors. The festival is loved by the community, said Lisa Dady, director of Historic Newton.
While Dady typically works as the director of Historic Newton, on Oct. 3 she worked as an ice cream scooper and helped with the cider press. Even her daughter came out to help the organization’s event run smoothly.
“The turnout exceeded our expectations, what we thought would be 500 people turned out to be over 600 showing up today,” Dady said.
Many families attended the event and were engaged with their surroundings, not their phones. Kids and adults alike were soaking up the experience with all their attention focused on enjoying the event and community space.
“Just finally having people together, and having this shared experience, your neighbors, your friends, people that you know,” attendee Adam West said. “This has been missing for the last 18 months.”
It was West’s first time attending Hayfest, and he said he was not let down. It was the perfect Sunday activity for him and his daughter, West said. Even while waiting in a long line for candle dipping, West and other community members laughed and enjoyed the blissful Sunday afternoon together.
A virtual version of the event was also available last year and this year, including videos, photos, and information about life in the 19th century. Dady said that one of the positive results of COVID-19 is engaging and learning through multiple platforms.
“We have an online version of the event, which educationally goes a lot deeper than what is offered here,” Dady said.
Due to COVID-19, the event was held entirely outdoors, as opposed to being both inside and outside like in previous years. Many of the attendees were children under 12, an age group not eligible to be vaccinated, and Dady many parents are still wary of big gatherings.
Hayfest provides an opportunity for the community to remember the rich history of the Jackson Homestead, Dady said. A descendant of the Jackson family donated the building to the city to be opened as a museum. The Homestead has two museums and three historic burial grounds, according to its website.
“Jackson Homestead was a stop on the underground railroad,” Dady said. “We always talk about slavery and antislavery, with exhibits and educators. Our black history programs are a critical part of what we do here.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons