Friday, September 29, 2023

Historical Society gearing up for Fall Harvest Festival

By Kaysa Jalbert

There’s no better way, or better backdrop, to celebrate the arrival of autumn than at an event in Windham Center sponsored by the Windham Historical Society

The Windham Historical Society's Fall Harvest Festival
is a free family event being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7 at the historical society's Village Green
in Windham Center. FILE PHOTO
Members of the Windham Historical Society are hosting the Fall Harvest Festival for a day packed with old-fashioned family fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the historical society’s Village Green in Windham Center.

Participants can look forward to a craft fair, food booths, fun games for kids, several crafters in pop-up tents and an assortment of local vendors. There will be three performances in the Village Green Gazebo throughout the event, one being the Maine Fiddler, Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection. Brown has performed as the opening act for Grammy-Award winning country music superstar Dwight Yoakum, and another legendary Grammy winner, Ricky Skaggs, along with collaborating with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra,

For those who like competitions, the Fall Harvest Festival will include a pumpkin carving contest, a pie eating contest, and a relay race, all with prizes available for winners that will be announced at the end of the event.

The Fall Harvest Festival is a first-time offering that the Windham Historical Society is hosting this year, but it is the goal of historical society members to make it an annual event in Windham.

“We hope that we can do this every year,” says Linda Lunt, Treasurer of the Windham Historical Society. “Many people don’t know who we are, and they don’t know what the Village Green is, so this is to show who we are and what we do.”

All Village Green buildings will be open during the festival for tours, including the Old Grocery that used to sit on the corner of Windham Center Road and Route 202 but made an historic move to the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green Living History Village on Oct. 30, 2020, where it has now become a living history museum that replicates a grocery store of the late 19th century.

“It’s just our past and it shouldn’t be forgotten,” says Lunt. “There are people my age who will come through and say, “I remember that!” or little kids that come through and say “wow!” and they don’t realize that there weren’t grocery stores and things like that around. We had to do canning and make our own foods and iron with cast irons, and it was very different back then. It’s nice to see their faces and see that they are getting a glimpse of the past and it’s nice to carry that on to our kids.”

The Fall Harvest Festival is a sponsored event that will be free to all ages with donations accepted throughout the event.

The Windham Historical Society purchased the land that once belonged to the Reeves family in 2010, when it included a house, a barn, a workshop, and a shed plus two acres of fields that abutted the Historical Society grounds. At first, the house was rented out for income as buildings started being moved onto the land. The South Windham Library was the first to move from its original location of almost 100 years on the Windham/Gorham town line to the Village Green.

Some of the old Reeve’s family buildings have been transformed, such as the Reeve’s Gun Shop that is now a genuine replica of a schoolhouse of the late 1890s. Windham students in grades 3 and 5 are given the chance to dress up and have living history classes in the schoolhouse.

A blacksmith shop was built on the land with the help of volunteers in 2018. The gazebo was added then in 2019 with hopes to host concerts or perhaps a wedding in this charming setting.

Most recently, in 2020, the Society raised $41,000 to fund the removal and relocation of the Old Grocery store from the corner of Windham Center Road and Route 202 to the Village Green grounds.

The Windham Historical Society aims to promote interest in the history of the town by presenting relevant public programs, providing educational opportunities, and maintaining historical facilities where displays of the towns past are available. <

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