New York often brings to mind the big city. But much of the state considers itself, and very proudly so, to be “upstate” and vastly different from the Big Apple. Step into the past and experience the culture of the farmstead in Cooperstown, New York. Best known for housing the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is known locally for celebrating another decidedly American tradition just outside its city limits: Harvest Festival at The Farmer’s Museum.

About 200 miles from the big city, Cooperstown’s Farmer’s Museum includes a working farmstead with a re-created historic village and other agricultural attractions. Year-round, the museum displays historic collections from nineteenth-century America. One of the most interesting collections is “Plowline: Images of Rural New York.” This collection features images that chronicle the rural lives and practices of farming families in New York beginning in the nineteenth century. In total, the museum has more than 23,000 items in its varying collections. Check out the collections to see authentic pictures and items that show what life was like for early American farmers.

While there are year-round events and activities, the Harvest Festival in September is a particularly great way to experience the museum. At the Harvest Festival, you can learn about and experience historic American farming culture and get a piece of other timeless American traditions as well.

Visitors of all ages can get their hands dirty as they hand-scythe and bale hay.

Visitors of all ages can get their hands dirty as they hand-scythe and bale hay.

For example, at harvest time, you can get your hands dirty by hand-scything hay or harvesting potatoes. Experts can even show you how to press apple cider. In addition, an abundance of delicious seasonal food is grown on the farm. And if you’re looking for more than fruits and vegetables, you can also try the delicious pork, chili, and hot dogs sold during the festival.

Other traditional American festival activities are also available during the Harvest Festival. Kids can play historic games, such as bobbing for apples, or they can make rope or learn to create other nineteenth-century crafts. There is also a Junior Livestock Show for children around Cooperstown to show off their prized animals. Other special activities include an alpaca agility obstacle course, horse-drawn wagon rides, and the Empire State Carousel.

The farm itself is a step back in time. The museum’s president, Dr. Paul D’Ambrosio, says, “The Farmer’s Museum has continued to give visitors a daily experience  that allows them to step into the past and learn and enjoy ways of life that they scarcely knew existed.” Allow yourself a weekend to immerse yourself in a past way of life and take part in timeless American harvest culture.

—Amanda Wind

Photos credits (from top):

Chiot’s Run

Chris Evans