Antique farm equipment sparks memories at Field Days

NEW HAVEN — At the Addison County Fair and Field Days’ antique equipment barn, volunteers and Field Days board members last week gave visitors a taste of what it was like to be an Addison County farmer 100 years ago.
Field Days attendees could peruse the antique equipment barn’s vast collection of antique buggies, looms, tractors, scythes, old engines and other antique farm equipment that was all used by farmers from Addison County in the early 20th century. The barn was open to passersby all week, with demonstrations of certain pieces equipment taking place daily.
The antique barn offers fairgoers the opportunity to understand what life was like in a past era whose heritage has faded in recent years. Field Days volunteer Bonnie Roleau, who organizes the antique equipment displays and demonstrations, said she’s grateful for the chance to get visitors connected with the agricultural history that played such an important role in shaping Addison County society.
“It’s great because people will come in and look at a certain piece of equipment and say, ‘Oh my grandmother had one of those, or my grandfather had one of those, or I remember those on the farm,’” she said. “Everybody has a story.”
A 1906 FAIRBANKS-MORSE gasoline-powered engine chugs along outside of the antique equipment barn on the Addison County fairgrounds last week.
Independent photo/James Finn
Volunteer Alan Clark agreed.
“It’s great to have these people come through and look at these demonstrations just to see how things used to be done as opposed to how they’re done today, how labor-intensive it was to get something done,” he said.
Volunteer Candice Polzella has been working with an old barn loom from the mid-20th century. She’s woven pieces of fabric and clothing, sharing the complex process with visitors and passersby.
“These are looms that were used many, many years ago, and it was called a barn frame because of the way it was structured,” she said. “People would make their clothes on them, they’d make rugs and blankets, anything they needed that would have to be made.”
The barn’s collection is vast and well-maintained, ranging from the dozens of brightly painted old tractors under a tent to antique combustion engines chugging away smoothly to the functioning loom that Polzella is working on.
Clark is glad to have visitors stopping by now, noting that memories of many of the pieces of equipment and practices the antique barn demonstrates may soon fade.
“Pretty soon, the days are going to come when that generation is gone, and they’re not going to be saying ‘Oh, my grandmother had one of those,’ (pieces of equipment) because she didn’t, she had an electric one,” Clark said.

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