Barns take a bow at Cauliflower Fest

 Barns, those icons of rural life that have long defined the landscape of the Catskills, will be the focus of the History Tent at the Ninth Annual Margaretville Cauliflower Festival to be held rain or shine Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 to 4 in the Village Park, Margaretville.

The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown will present the results of a three-year photographic survey of 210 standing barns in Middletown and contiguous areas of Roxbury, Hardenburgh, Andes and Halcott.

In “Barn Yesterday,” visitors can view an exhibit, peruse binders containing photos and historic documentation of the barns, and watch a stunning continuous slide show featuring Middletown’s amazing agricultural legacy in all its homespun glory. Tribute will be made to those still farming, and homage will be paid to barns that have disappeared.

Learn about types of barns and their functional elements. See how some have been adapted to new uses. Enjoy the art and geometry of these common but remarkable buildings. And try your hand at timber framing, the traditional method of building a barn.

Denver builder Wayne Ford will demonstrate this specialized type of post and beam construction using mortise and tenon joinery, held in place with wooden pegs. Engaging willing audience volunteers throughout the day, he will construct two 8×14 “bents” – posts and cross beams in an H shape – and tie them together with girders, top plates and sills to create a rectangular frame.

Timber framing was common until the late 1800s before sawmills started producing dimensional lumber, which was much easier to transport, cut and erect than large posts and beams. Factory-made nails rather than wooden pins were used to assemble these “sticks” into structures in which the walls — rather than a heavy frame — supported the weight of the building. Known as balloon framing, the technique required much more skill and time than working with enormous timbers.

Other home-made attractions

In keeping with the farm theme, a Tractor Parade will roll around the festival grounds at 11:30, and Lauren Davis and crew will provide a hay baling demonstration on his adjoining farm at 2:30.

Seth and Alisha Finch will bring their mammoth Percheron draft horses to give afternoon wagon rides to festival goers. The Finchs and their children, Wyatt and Emma, use the horses to do traditional farm tasks, from spreading manure to working in the hay fields to logging.

Bushels of cauliflower will be offered for sale, and kids of all ages will have a chance to be photographed as the Watershed Agricultural Council’s “Cauliflower Lady.”

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, 36 artisans, vendors and exhibitors will greet visitors. Festival fare will range from cauliflower soup to barbecue chicken to pickles right out of the barrel! Containers of Chobani yogurt will be given away.

Highlighting the entertainment offerings this year will be the popular Catskill Mountain Boys at noon and 2 p.m., and the Blue Ribbon Cloggers at 1 and 3 p.m. Garden experts will offer mini-workshops on a variety of topics at 12:30, 1:15, 2 and 2:45.

Kids will enjoy Strich’s Petting Zoo and pony rides, Catskill Outback Adventures’ zipline across the East Branch, and a ride around the grounds in Papa’s Little Hillbilly Barrel Train.

The festival is sponsored by the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce and supported by Freshtown Marketplace; Kids in the Catskills, Coldwell/Banker Timberland Properties; MTC; Directive, Inc., and HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley.

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