Field Days vignette: Roger Layn passes on blacksmithing tradition
On the opening day of Field Days last Tuesday, the blacksmithing barn at the Addison County Fairgrounds was dedicated to Roger Layn and his family in honor of Layn’s lifelong contribution to the fair.
The 94-year-old Monkton resident is a longtime dairy farmer and a collector of antique equipment.
“I really don’t think it was necessary,” said Layn, regarding the building’s dedication in his honor. “I appreciate it, however.”
Layn has been involved with Field Days since it moved to its current site in the 1960s, he said. He donated the forge for the blacksmith barn. The barn was erected in 2009 from the frame of an old New Haven barn. Now, after the dedication, it bears Layn’s name on a sign above the entrance
Many of the engines on display under the antique equipment tent are also a part of Layn’s extensive collection.
“Field Days has something for everyone,” said Layn, adding that, “there seems to be a lot of interest in antiques.”
Layn also emphasized the importance of passing on agricultural traditions to younger generations.
“It’s up to your generation to keep these activities alive,” he said, citing examples of young people at the fair who have taken up driving horses or using old fashioned hand-mowing techniques.
Layn has inspired others to join the Field Days tradition of educating others about agriculture and history.
Steve Pecca of Waltham started helping out with the blacksmithing exhibition about 15 years ago, he said. He was spending his week at Field Days explaining the science and art of blacksmithing to visitors and helping to brand the Field Days seal onto shingles for souvenirs.
“I’m here because of Roger’s influence,” said Pecca, who said that he saw how much fun the people working at the forge were having, and decided to join.
“Roger enjoys making people happy and making them excited to learn new things,” Pecca said. “He’s just a really good, friendly guy who loves people and has given a lot to his community.”
— Mary Langworthy
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