Learning the difference between a steer and an ox, picking flowers in a blooming field, and jumping in a haystack were just a sampling of activities available for visitors to the Salomon Farm Fall Harvest Festival held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1-2. The annual event, which is a celebration of the family farm and the fall harvest season, drew thousands to experience what life was like on a farm in the 1930s.
With the assistance of the DeKalb County Horsemen’s Association and the Tri-State Antique Tractor Club, festival attendees enjoyed free draft-horse pulled wagon rides, barrel train rides, demonstrations on making corn husk dolls, a tractor parade, demonstrations of blacksmithing skills, and a farmer’s market featuring local produce and locally made goods. A large assortment of antique tractors and threshing machines were also on display. A pumpkin patch featuring a variety of pumpkins and squash provided the perfect backdrop for parents taking fall photos of their kids. The pumpkins were available for purchase from Troyer Custom Farms from Hicksville, Ohio.
Steward Harshman, a member of the DeKalb County Horsemen’s Association, served as the announcer for the festival’s activities. “Our club owns 16 ride wagons,” Harshman said. “This weekend we have one wagon at the club’s farm and museum in DeKalb County. The rest of our wagons are out here at Salomon Farms, at the Kendallville Apple Festival, and at the Fashion Farm Pumpkin Days in Ligonier. We love doing this. It gives us a chance to teach people about draft animal teams, and how they serve the family farm.”
The organization also brought a Conestoga chuck wagon to the festival, and served ham and beans cooked over an open fire as a fundraiser. “The club owns a farm and draft animal museum in DeKalb County,” Harshman said. “This event helps fund our other events, like a Pumpkin Fest at the Draft Animal Museum on Oct. 8.” The museum is located at 5873 County Road 427 in Auburn.
For Aaron and Gretchen Miller, the Fall Harvest Festival was the perfect place to bring their young son, Reggie, for a family outing. “We were in the mood to get our house ready for fall,” Gretchen said. “This gave us a great way to find fall things, and we also loved showing Reggie the tractor parade. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Dave Broerman, a science teacher for East Allen County Schools, spent his time at the festival painting “en plein air.” Broerman has been a hobbyist painter for nine years, and he used the flower field at Salomon Farm as his inspiration for sunflower oil paintings. He produced three paintings while at the farm and sold one to a festival attendee. “I use the money from the sale of my oil paintings to buy gravel for a nature trail we’re building at Paul Harding Junior High School,” Broerman said.
Alexa Melcher brought her young children, Pete and Laney, to the festival. “We love being outside and seeing the animals,” she said. “My husband is a farmer, so it’s neat to be able to show the kids the history of farming.”