ELKTON- After 20 years of work, the Cecil County Farm Museum and Regional Agricultural Center celebrated the grand opening of its indoor exhibits Saturday.

On the same day, the museum hosted an antique car, truck, tractor and machinery show. President Matt Stauffer said the museum hopes to increase the amount of events at the museum after the grand opening.

“Traditionally we've had five events throughout the year,” Stauffer said. “But we're going to eventually morph into monthly events.”

Most of the funding for the museum has come from memberships, donations and fundraisers, according to Stauffer.

There are three main exhibit sections in the farm museum. The upper floor of a rehabilitated barn contains the rural life displays, featuring models of a general store and what a country home looked like. Another building contains an exhibit showing the increased mechanization of agriculture, from horsepower to machines. The final section at the base of the barn will serve as an education center, to host guest speakers, workshops and student groups. 

Board member Molly Brumbley showcased the changes in farming technology. Animal treadmills, would have dogs or goats run on a wooden treadmill that would power threshing machines, a butter churn or a washing machine, gave way to more advanced machinery allowing for less human and animal labor.

“Just like any other industrial revolution, you're going from intense labor, with lots of people involved to how can we do this more efficiently, more mechanically,” Brumbley said.

Cecil County Historical Society president Paula Newton said many of the displays in the rural life exhibit are based in the 1930s.

“The whole purpose of this display up here is to try and give people a look back in time as to how people lived and how much easier our life is now in some ways,” Newton, a board member of the Farm Museum, said.

Newton said electricity didn’t come to rural Cecil County until the 30s and 40s. Electric access was still limited, sometimes consisting of only one or two lights. Her family farm didn’t have any plumbing when her family moved in 1961. She said her father, who sold the farm after a cancer diagnosis, regretted every day he wasn’t on the farm.

Newton said people would have to be self-sufficient, creating their own rugs or filling mattresses with geese feathers. General stores would serve as a place to buy necessities, such as food items, that people couldn’t make themselves.

“You had to know how to survive,” Newton said.

Farm Museum Executive Director Mel Bacon said the museum hopes to expand their educational initiatives, possibly becoming a field trip destination for elementary school students, collaboration with the Cecil County School of Technology, and hosting 4-H clubs and other civic organizations.

“If there's anything unique about this, it’s that we are on the property of the Cecil County Public Schools,” Bacon said. “We are 300 yards from the Cecil County School of Technology. In that school there are all kinds of programs and one of those programs is Ag-Sciences, and that is key. We can now work with high school students in science programs and their instructors.”

The museum is currently looking for historic photos featuring local agriculture. Readers interested in the museum can contact info@ccfarmmuseum.org

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