ORRINGTON, Maine — The town’s 225th Old Home Week birthday celebration extends until Sunday and ends with a visit by the state’s commissioner of agriculture to honor the Howard family — the last farmers in town to milk cows for a living.
Commissioner Walt Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is scheduled to make a presentation to the family at the historic Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum at 11 a.m. Sunday, which is also Open Farm Day across Maine.
Members of the Howard family are coming from all over the region for the event, a family member said after the parade, in which family patriarch and lifelong resident Carolyn Delle Quimby Howard was the grand marshal. Her sons, Alan Howard and James Howard Jr., who is called “Jimmie,” are in their 70s and continue to run the dairy farm.
On Open Farm Day the gates to nearly 100 Maine farms will be open for visitors.
“All across Maine you can visit dozens of small farms; farms with vegetable stands and market gardens; farms with hay rides and home bakeries; farms with sheep, cows, horses, rabbits, pigs or chickens; farms and farm owners who want to show you a fascinating cross-section of life growing out in the Maine countryside,” Whitcomb said in a press release.
The event “encourages better understanding of how food happens and how hardworking Maine farm families contribute to both the local economy and the locally grown food supply,” the commissioner said.
The annual Open Farm Day turned into a two-day gathering at Curran Homestead, located at 372 Fields Pond Road, about 22 years ago when the historic farm started hosting its annual Summer Festival the day before. The Summer Festival transports visitors back to a time when there was no running water and food came straight from the garden, according to Irv Marsters, Curran Homestead treasurer.
“Take a step back in time to an era when your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were younger,” he said in a press release about the two-day event. “Watch or participate in many activities that would be very familiar to members of those generations.”
Doors open at the Curran Homestead from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, and the list of historic activities that children and adults of all ages can enjoy include living history demonstrations, live music, animal petting, antique tractor and vehicle displays and a vintage vehicle pulling competition. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children, with a family maximum of $20. Noon barbecues are also held for a cost.
“[As] part of the Town of Orrington’s 225th anniversary, the Curran Farm will celebrate the inventiveness, craftsmanship, ingenuity and industry of the rural Maine family farm through educational programs, exhibits and special events,” Marsters said.
Go to curranhomestead.org for information about the 22nd anniversity Summer Festival or Open Farm Day. More information about Old Home Week can be found on the town’s website or the Old Home Week committee ’s Facebook page.