October 22, 2021

Heritage fair in Dryden journeys to the past

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Marie Rumsey, of Virgil, admires the historic wallpaper on the walls of the 1836 John Southworth brick house on Saturday during Homestead Heritage Day in Dryden.

Visitors to an 1836 homestead learned historical songs, games and daily routines, along with other fall activities, on Saturday during the Homestead Heritage Fair at the Dryden Historical Society on North Street.

Attendees could listen to the Cortland Old Timers Band perform American songs like the “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Yankee Doodle” and different military themes. Representatives of the Cornell Raptor Program taught people about these birds of prey and conservation efforts on their behalf. Pamela Poulin portrayed suffragette Amelia Bloomer, who was a Homer native.

Members of the Dryden Historical Society gave tours of the Southworth Homestead, built in 1836 by John Southworth, a prominent landowner who helped clear the trees in Dryden for settlement.

From the time the original structure was built to when the Historical Society bought it in 2012 to serve as its base of operations, five generations of the Southworth family lived here. The guides noted the additions made to the house over the years, collectibles from overseas and more about the Southworth family from Betsey Van Sickle, the great niece of John Southworth.

“This was a pine forest,” Van Sickle said, talking about how her great uncle made his fortune in the lumber and real estate business.

Nora Cultrera, a first-grader at Dryden Elementary School, took a tour of the house with her parents, Luca and Sonia, admiring the antiques of the place like old silver hairbrushes and a dollhouse from the 1920s.

The Cultreras have only lived in Dryden for two years, having moved to America from Italy six years ago. It was their first time coming out to the Heritage Festival, having not previously gotten involved with village events. But they figured they would come out since their daughter is getting involved with events in her school.

“This event is cute,” Sonia Cultrera said. “You get a sense of the community here. And we love historical events.”
“I learned about how the house was really, really old,” Nora said.

Nora on Saturday also pet some of the sheep, watched them get sheared and was eager to take a wagon ride.

Among the other things people could do was watch craft demonstrations — cross-stitching, spinning, quilting and chair caning the same way it was done back in the 1800s. Susan Quick of Ithaca showed how flax was spun into linen thread. Quick pressed a wooden foot pedal to spin a bobbin as she twisted the flax into a fine strand.

Quick said that flax, though a labor intensive plant, was very prominent in the area. It was used to make socks, table linen, army uniforms and jeans before denim was used.

“Egyptians would wrap their mummies in linen,” Quick said, noting it is a wonderful fiber.