Farmers’ Museum to light up, re-create an 1840s Christmas

Visiting The Farmers’ Museum’s Candlelight Evening in the middle of December might not be on your Ch

Categories: Life & Arts

Visiting The Farmers’ Museum’s Candlelight Evening in the middle of December might not be on your Christmas list of things to do, but according to Meg Preston, director of special events, a family excursion to Cooperstown is a great way to celebrate the holiday season.

The Farmers’ Museum is closed for the season through March. But on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m., the re-created historic village will be adorned with nearly a thousand candles, creating a scene that is sure to please every member of the family, young and old.

“We start to light the candles as it gets dark, and it creates an absolutely gorgeous setting,” said Preston. “It becomes a very festive, family-oriented event, and we always get people from our tri-county area that continue to come back year after year.”

Along with the historic village with more than 25 buildings, The Farmer’s Museum has a working farmstead, with a Colonial Revival stone barn that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Empire State Carousel, a classic merry-go-round that will be operating on Saturday.

‘Candlelight Evening’

WHERE: The Farmers’ Museum, 5775 Route 80, Lake Road, Cooperstown

WHEN: 3-7 p.m., Saturday

HOW MUCH: $12 adults; $10.50 seniors, $6 children 7-12, free for children 6 and under

MORE INFO: 607-547-1450,

Rural, village life

The Farmers’ Museum was created in 1943 in Cooperstown to offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience rural and village life from the 19th century. Most of the buildings on the ground will be lit with candles, and many will offer the same demonstrations of farm or village life that are part of the regular-season program at the museum.

Children will be able to visit with Saint Nicholas at the Filer’s Corners Schoolhouse from 4:30-5 p.m. and again from 5:30-6 p.m., and members of the Congregation of the Christ Episcopal Church will present “A Living Nativity” between 5 and 6 p.m.

A variety of musicians and singing groups will perform at the Cornwallville Church, including GladTidings, The Catskill Choral Society Girls’ Choir, the Northern Comfort Men’s Quartet and the Catskill Chamber Singers. There will also be instrumental fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, cittern and concertina music, and various groups will also be caroling throughout the village.

“Our event is more than 30 years old now, and it’s really become a tradition for some families,” said Preston. “Kids love looking at the animals, and if they want to do that they should come before it gets too dark. We will also have wagon rides drawn by draft horses with harness bells, and we’ll be outside with kettles on open fires heating up our wassail, which is a cider drink filled with many different spices. People love to walk around enjoying the historic village while they’re drinking their wassail.”

Along with the Cornwallville Church and the Filer’s Corners Schoolhouse, some of the buildings open to the public will be the 1820s doctor’s office, originally built in Westford in Otsego County; the 1797 Lippitt Farmhouse, built in Hinman Hollow near Hartwick; the 1797 Bump Tavern, built in Windham in Greene County by Ephraim Bump and Jehiel Tuttle; the 1790 Westcott Shop, built in Schuyler Lake in Otsego County; the 1819 Todd’s General Store, built in Toddsville in Otsego County; and the 1827 blacksmith shop, built in New Berlin in Chenango County.

“We will have someone in most every building interpreting the history there,” said Preston. “There will be some cooking going on, but most of it will be demonstrations.”

Because the historic village is set up to look the way it would have in the 1840s, visitors looking for a Christmas tree might be disappointed.

Yule tree came later

“We might have a Christmas tree in our main barn where the public has to walk through before they get to the village, but I don’t think you’ll see one in the village,” said Preston. “It will be very festive, but Christmas trees really weren’t part of the culture in the 1840s. They started getting popular a little later on.”

Another attraction during Saturday’s event will be a special appearance by “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, who will be on hand from 3-4 p.m. at the Louis C. Jones Center to sign copies of their new book, “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook.”

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