Farm Museum holiday tour takes visitors back in time

As festive music played throughout the grounds, Bob Bullock examined Carroll County Farm Museum's holiday decorations. For him, the displays "brought back memories of growing up in the '40s."

"It's simply beautiful," said Bullock, of Westminster, who attended the preview party for volunteers. "Our decorations weren't this elaborate, but I see a cook stove, a wagon and a sled that are similar. It's heartwarming."


The holiday tour, which goes from Dec. 1 through Dec. 21, is a great tradition, Farm Museum manager Joanne Weant said.

"We have people that come back year after year to see the decorations and visit with Santa," Weant said. "The holidays are such a family-oriented time and we're so happy to be part of people's family traditions."

Every year for the past 11 years, members of the local business community have been turning a blank canvas into Christmas magic for the Taneytown Heritage and Museum Association's annual Holiday of Trees. This year is no exception with participants creating works of art in the form of Holiday Trees, Wreaths and Centerpieces. These "works of art" will be on display at the Taneytown Branch of New Windsor State Bank, 222 E. Baltimore St., from Nov. 28 through Dec. 17.

Farm Museum curator Stefanie Basalik said this year's theme is "Home and Fireside: Christmas on the Farm."

"Because it's the Farm Museum's 50th anniversary, we wanted to honor the holiday traditions of the farm," Basalik explained. "We used The Farmer's Wife magazine for inspiration and made the decorations very natural."

Basalik said The Farmer's Wife was a widely read magazine in the early 20th century.

"The farmhouse is decorated using how-to tips, recipes, letters and advertisements featured in the magazine," Basalik said. "Since the magazine was published independently from 1893 until 1939, we're displaying some of our artifacts that reflect the period."


Small details throughout the house, such as cornucopias and mittens, add to the festive feel.

Bertha Shriner, of Westminster, who began volunteering at the Farm Museum in 1966, also came to the preview party. She said the decorations are "beautiful."

"The red is not overdone but it's enriching," Shriner said. "The bows are a really nice touch. It's just enough."

During the tour, visitors can see a 1905 wedding dress in the parlor, as well as other wedding-related pieces. A framed The Farmer's Wife excerpt discusses the tradition of having a wedding on Christmas Eve.

The Carroll County Farm Museum offers an annual holiday tour of the museum's farm house.
The Carroll County Farm Museum offers an annual holiday tour of the museum's farm house. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO /)

"In wintertime, it was much easier for farmers to stop what they were doing and go to a wedding," Basalik said. "It was also convenient because families were already gathered."

The study features sleigh bells with a corresponding The Farmer's Wife excerpt, pistols and powder horns. The display case in the hall highlights various Christmas editions of the magazine.

"We looked at what kind of food they were making, what kind of decorations they put up and what type of gifts they were giving," Basalik said.

The case also features a canister set, an egg carton shaper, a milk and cream separator, and Jell-O molds. Basalik found that the magazine also included step-by-step instructions on how to knit a sweater, embroider a handkerchief and make a hat stand. In the 1930s, The Farmer's Wife suggested the maximum amount one should for spend for Christmas gifts was 5 cents per person.

"We found that most farmers wanted to give homemade gifts, so we focused on that throughout the house," Basalik said.

The master bedroom has a storytelling theme, and the children's room is themed around the tale of animals speaking at midnight.

"They say if you go to the barn at midnight you'll hear the animals singing praises to God," Basalik said.

In the dining room, an intricate holiday feast has been arranged for the table. The bow-front cabinet features elaborate butter molds.

Bob Wiles, of Emmitsburg, took the tour for the first time.

"I'm impressed," Wiles said. "I love the butter molds because they're all unique designs."

The kitchen display demonstrates homemade gifts, like cookies, being made. Carol Longenecker, of New Windsor, has volunteered with the museum for 15 years and said she enjoys the kitchen decorations.

"It's always festive," Longenecker said. "The holidays are all about the food."

Volunteer Linda Dennis, of Westminster, described the decoration as educational.

"I thought the decorations were very authentic," Dennis said, "and very tastefully done."




If you go

What: Carroll County Farm Museum's Holiday Tour

When: Dec. 1 through Dec. 21. Guided tours 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Self-guided tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Self-guided tours noon to 4 p.m., Sundays.

Where: 500 S. Center St., Westminster

Cost: $2 seniors/adults, $10 for families