Curator: Edward Jones
Assistant: Diane Jones
Committee: Erlon Jones, Ted Greene, Loretta Greene and Ken Karpowich
In 1993, Edward and Diane Jones became the Museum Curator and Assistant Museum Curator of the Fryeburg Fair Farm Museum. Their goal was to bring the Farm Museum alive, to restore its artifacts and to educate the public. Both former Fryeburg Selectmen and past presidents of the Fryeburg Historical Society, they truly have a passion for preservation and care of the museum€™s artifacts.
In the fall of 1971, the Farm Museum opened with Harry Eastman as curator in a small exhibit area near the pulling grandstand. It became so popular that on July 4, 1975, an old-fashioned "Barn Raising" was held in commemoration of the "Bicentennial." The barn, which houses the major display, was built in 1832 and moved to the fairgrounds. Former curator George "Britt" Holmes is remembered as the driving force in obtaining and reconstructing the present museum building. Britt obtained the rustic old 1832 New England post and beam barn from Diamond Match Company after it had acquired the old Island Road Merrill/Walker Farm where the barn previously stood.
The name Farm Museum is somewhat of a misnomer as the memorabilia exhibited represents practically all of the crafts and early industries of our New England area. Farming, home-making, lumbering and log driving; quarrying, leather tanning, potash making, blacksmithing and wheelwright trades; cobbler and harness making, carpentry and beekeeping, ice cutting and maple syrup and sugar production are all represented. Artifacts from the Bryant Pond Telephone Company, the last magneto hand-crank system in the United States, are on display along with related telephone memorabilia. The Farm Museum also has an extensive collection of chain saws that attract many people each year.
The present Town of Fryeburg was for many years the site of the Indian Village of "Pigwacket." In 1763, General (then Colonel) Joseph Frye was granted some 36 square miles of land here in recognition of his outstanding services during the French and Indian Wars. Many of the settlers who came here with General Frye brought with them tools and implements that either had been handed down to them through generations or were acquired or made years before. Many of these were made in England and those which are in the museum are so marked. The museum exhibits cover a span of over 250 years of American colonial history.
Through the generosity of Mrs. Marion Hobbs, a schoolhouse was given to the Society and moved to the museum complex in the fall of 1990. This little red schoolhouse had been located on a knoll at Toll Bridge by the Saco River and was in use from 1835-1938. The school had one room and one teacher taught all subjects to all grades. It was heated with wood and water was carried from a nearby house. After its restoration, it was dedicated on the first Sunday of the 1991 fair. Diane Jones compiled its history and a list of the teachers along with locating photos and memorabilia of the school. Each year a group of school-children from MSAD 72 is carefully selected to reenact a typical school day of the nineteenth century. Clothing, class materials, teaching methods and even discipline are faithfully created. Ruth Hodgkins is our schoolmarm along with Becky Bessette.
Each year the Farm Museum offers daily trade and craft demonstrations including blacksmithing with Joel Tripp, Dick Holman, and Paul Bilodeau. They work daily in the newly renovated blacksmith shop and are glad to answer any questions. Others include cider pressing with Bob Record and Dennis Bacon; woodwright demonstration with Larry Tripp; bean hole bean demonstration with Erlon Jones; chair caning with Hans Paulsen; beekeeping with David Sorensen; candle making, butter making, milk separating and washing clothes on an old fashioned wash board with Jeanne Eastman; spinning with Delores Hoeh and Anne Gass; barn loom weaving with Grace McGivergan; treadle sewing machine demonstration with Kathy Albert; quilting with Chris Murphy; and needlework with Becky Bessette. The open space around the buildings is filled with displays of early farm equipment, some of it is in use during the fair. Ted Greene, Alan Greene, Tim Mayberry and Danne Moore demonstrate farm machinery and are known to occasionally to have a tractor race.
Tara Greene makes butter and ice cream and hands out samples to fairgoers. Loretta Greene cooks on a wood cook stove and hands out samples of food made from old time recipes from Loretta's Kitchen. Loretta started coming to the fair when she was ten years old, exhibiting in a 4-H project with her mother and grandmother who were leaders.
"I think it's a great Fair. It has gotten more and more positive every year," says Loretta. "Every year somebody comes up with something new that enhances what's already here. We've got better signage. It's much cleaner, much brighter. The fair has put an awful lot back into this area, and it's a fun place to work. It's just a lot of fun, and it's fun to see a lot of people bringing their kids because it's an area where they can bring kids and feel safe. It just seems like every year there are more and more people."
Our movie theater is a great place to sit and relax and enjoy old-time films with Northeast Historic Films. Owner David Weiss shows old time movies daily and offers a wide selection of these films for sale in both VHS and DVD format. If you have old films you would like to preserve, stop by and see David. Leah Farnham€™s steers, €œEd and Erlon,€? can be seen in their stall just outside the move theatre. During the day, they are demonstrating old-time plowing beside the Little Red Schoolhouse. Sherman Adams has a beautiful display of antique stoves inside the carriage shed. There also is a vintage smokehouse where bacon is smoked throughout the week.
The museum relies heavily on its many dedicated attendants like Bob Record, Roger and Carol Roberts, Dennis and Suzanne Bacon and John and Joan Mancuso. George Cleveland, WMVW radio personality and grandson of President Grover Cleveland, said about the museum, "I figure it is one of the few treasures of this neck of the woods and someday I know people would love to see this place open on a more regular basis."
For Diane Jones, that suggestion is a familiar one. "That's probably the biggest request that we have every year," she said. "They think it's too bad that this couldn't be open more. The way we look at it, there are probably more people that come through the Farm Museum in eight days than probably would in a year. So we try to do a good job and have something a little different each year. This year we had bean hole beans." The response was amazing. Hundreds lined up for samples. Many came the second day just to see the beans come out of the hole and test them.
Having something different has been Curator Ed Jones' goal. Years ago he thought: "If I had anything to do with it - and I didn't know at the time that I was ever going to - it would be to bring the barn alive and change it around a lot and have demonstrations of all those pieces of machinery, rather than just seeing them sit there because anybody seeing something like that setting around, they don't know how it works, and they can't imagine how it works. That's been my goal more than anything else."
Jones continued, "1999 was a gratifying experience at the farm museum. Many demonstrations and more displays continued to breathe life into the museum grounds. I felt a sense of subtle change at the museum. More donations come in every year, but we are usually more careful taking only those in good condition. Consequently, many of them are in excellent working condition and can be demonstrated during the Fair. This will hopefully lead us even further toward a real living museum."
"We feel our younger generation should be able to see for themselves what many of us saw for ourselves in our youth. We think our job must be at least in part to educate our children so that they can appreciate a life that they were born too late to experience."
Radio personality Cleveland added, "It's also really exciting because you've got so many of the craft people and the artisans and the people who know how to make some of the old machines work, and you know, I've said this several times but I will say it again: Go back there and see this stuff working! To see a team of oxen plow, actually plow; to see a shingle mill being run by a little one-lunger machine, and then the ice-cream demonstration, and Loretta's Kitchen the Greene household they are responsible for an awful lot of what you see over there their whole family is involved. It is amazing! You can have their fresh butter, their fresh everything. It's a wonderful, wonderful place to wander through!"
Stop by the farm museum and say hello to Ed and Diane. They would love to see you.