Farm Fest combines agricultural experience and family time

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Thu., Sep. 8, 2011
Tim Bigelow of Monson, Mass., drives his doodlebug tractor at Farm Fest. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.
Tim Bigelow of Monson, Mass., drives his doodlebug tractor at Farm Fest. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.

Roger Ives, a Suffield farmer, said the doodlebugs – small, antique, homemade farm tractors – are a dying breed, and he was happy to see the recent tractor pull event at Hilltop Farm. “They are a piece of history,” said Ives. “Many of them were used during World War II, and a lot of people built them on their own. Now, many of the parts used in the doodlebugs used today came from long ago. You might see a tractor with a 1947 Ford motor, but have other parts from 1939.”

Hilltop Farm hosted the ninth annual Farm Fest Sept. 3 and 5, celebrating agriculture and local farmers. The event also featured doodlebug pulls for the first time in the event’s history.

Mike Woodin, who brought his doodlebug from Enfield to the Farm Fest, enjoyed competing and seeing the festival celebrate the doodlebug. “This is all a great part of our history,” he said. “We’re part of a dying breed.”

There were also demonstrations and contests throughout the festival that brought back old traditions, including a hay bale-tossing contest and a demonstration featuring the creation of yarn using a spinning wheel. Visitors were able to learn the history of agriculture at the farm and through several of the vendors who visited, including Dee Haggett, who brought her spinning wheel to Hilltop. She explained how, like farm equipment, the history lies within the use of it.

“This wheel has been many places,” said Haggett. “The lady who used to own this before I purchased it on Craigslist lived in Canada before bringing it to Waterbury, Connecticut. All throughout, she was using it to spin yarn. I don’t know much about her, but I know she spent much of her life spinning with this machine.” Haggett spun yarn using sheep wool, which she will use to knit sweaters and scarves.

There was also a children's section at the Farm Fest, with bean bag-tossing, puppet shows, farm animals to pet, needle-in-a-haystack games and corn-shucking. Pony rides and face-painting were also available for the kids.

The beginning of the weekend featured the Harvest Dinner and Silent Auction on Sept. 3. Food was supplied by local farms and dishes were created by the neighboring Lincoln Culinary Institute.

The Friends of the Farm sponsored the event. They were assisted by many volunteers, including the local Future Farmers of America from the Agriscience Program at Suffield High School.

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