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Weant adds her touch to Carroll's farm museum

The new manager of the Carroll County Farm Museum is hoping to continuously shift exhibits and boost educational offerings in her efforts to help people remember the county's rural heritage.

"History is so important," said Joanne Weant, who replaced longtime farm museum manager Dottie Freeman in December.

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"Farming is still top industry in Carroll County, but many people are now so removed from the farm," she said. "I've been given a great opportunity to showcase a gem that is very unique — not just in this county but in this region."

Weant said she's hoping to capitalize on the things the museum does well and bring in more people.

"My favorite part about this job is to walk the property and think what we can do to improve," she said. "We plan to regularly change things out. We also hope to rotate displays with other museums and add education programs throughout the week."

The museum, under Weant's management, has recently remodeled the Carroll Tea Room in the farmhouse to add more space. The museum will have a Valentine's Day tea and St. Patrick's Day tea in the room, offering an array of savory and sweet treats.

Bonnie Staub, manager of Carroll County Tourism, said Weant has done an impressive job in her first two months on the job.

"She had lots of great ideas and is making a lot of changes that will make a world of difference," Staub said.

Weant grew up in Montgomery County and started her career as an agriculture reporter for the Carroll County Times. She later married a fifth-generation dairyman and worked on the farm for 18 years. She was also Carroll County's agricultural development specialist and assisted with the Farm Museum's petting zoo.

Weant said she likes to think of the museum as a mini-Williamsburg.

The museum opened in 1966 and provides the public with the opportunity to experience mid-19th century rural life. The grounds include original farm structures, such as the farmhouse and a bank barn, built in 1853. Other buildings include a 1700s log barn, smokehouse, broom shop, saddlery, springhouse, wagon shed, firehouse and one-room schoolhouse along with the Living History Center and a General Store exhibit. Period artifacts and antiques round out the rural experience for visitors.

"They really had a great vision for the museum 50 years ago," Weant said. "I plan on continuing that vision."

She said there is great support for the museum in the community. Volunteer artisans, including blacksmiths and weavers, regularly demonstrate their crafts to visitors.

"This place runs on volunteer support," Weant said. "We're counting on their generosity and their time."

Volunteers also offer guided tours through the seven decorated rooms in the farmhouse. The Large Hall Showcase and Bowfront China Closet in the farmhouse feature special displays and collections, which rotate every other month. A self-guided walking tour pamphlet, push-button recording and signage provide visitors with information in the various exhibit buildings.

Exhibits support the museum by presenting artifacts with appropriate interpretation, to show both how they once looked and how they were used by farmers and their families throughout the history of agriculture in Carroll County. Visitors can take a guided or walking tour almost any day of the year. Admission is free until March 31.

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The museum will also continue to offer traditional arts classes. These classes offer students the opportunity to learn a historic craft from artisans skilled in traditional arts. The museum's February schedule includes tinsmithing, Pennsylvania German Fraktur painting, open hearth cooking, broom making and basket making.

Bob Jones, head of the Farm Museum's Hoff Barn board, said he has been impressed with Weant's enthusiasm.

"She understands the farm community," he said.

Reach staff writer Michel Elben at 410-857-7873 or email michel.elben@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Valentine's Day Tea

When: Seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Feb. 11, 12, 14 and 15

Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster

More information: carrollcountyfarmmuseum.org

What: St. Patrick's Day Tea

When: Seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. March 14 to 17

Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster

More information: carrollcountyfarmmuseum.org

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