Perched in a refurbished 19th century Cutter sleigh, Carroll County Farm Museum's curator Stefanie Strosnider showed off the newest addition to the organization's holiday decor.
"We're very fortunate to receive it so visitors can have a hands-on experience," Strosnider said.
The sleigh was donated by Allan Gladhill, of Middletown, in September. A team at the museum restored the sleigh over several months so visitors to the annual holiday tour could use it as a photo opportunity, she said. The museum's Historic Holiday Farmhouse Tours begin today, Dec. 1, and run through Dec. 20. The museum will also be host to various other holiday events during that time.
According to museum director Joanne Weant, holiday events have been held at the museum since it opened in 1966.
"The holiday tour is a great tradition at the museum," Weant said. "It's the time of year that brings family and friends together. We love that our tour and our events play a role in family traditions. The holidays are an important time of year for farm families because it brings everyone around the table to celebrate a year's worth of work and shared effort."
Strosnider said this year's theme is the 1822 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore, commonly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
"This particular poem established a number of Christmas traditions," Stosnider said. "Before the poem was published, immigrants brought over their own traditions."
Strosnider said the tour features a collection of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" printings that reveals how the illustrations for the story have changed as Christmas has become more commercialized. Eight mice made of yarn, crafted by volunteers, are hidden throughout the house to denote "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
Laura Rogers, the tour guide and Tea Room manager, said seven volunteers helped decorate the themed rooms to match the period.
"As you go through the house, you'll notice that the decorations are more simplistic," she said. "People would use more natural materials to decorate like pine cones."
Tour highlights include the master bedroom that illustrates "mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap"; the children's room that portrays "the children were nestled all snug in their beds; while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads"; and a formal dining room that features a Noble Excellence china set with a "'Twas the Night" pattern.
Rogers said the tour depicts a well-to-do farm family's home, and everything in the house was donated by Carroll County families. Weant said Penguin Random House is sponsoring the tour for the second year and their support reduces the overall expenses of the event.
Rogers said she looks forward to the tour every year.
"As a tour guide, you come to appreciate the families who come back every year," she said. "It's like a homecoming."
If you go
What: Historic Holiday Farmhouse tours
When: Tours will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 1 through Dec. 20.
Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster
Cost: Tickets are $2. Free for ages 9 and under with paying adult.
Coming up at the Farm Museum
What: Sugar Plum Shoppe
When: Noon-4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays Dec. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20.
What: Artisan Demonstrations
When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20.
What: Civil War Encampment
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 5 and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 6.
Carroll County Breaking News
What: Mule-Drawn Wagon Rides
When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 12-13 and 19-20.
What: Meet St. Nick
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and noon-4 p.m. Dec. 13.
What: Music by the Master
When: 1-4 p.m. Dec. 19-20.
For more information, call 800-654-4645 or email email@example.com.