Farm day at Clermont

Posted: October 3, 2013

The Winchester Star

Clermont Farm office manager Mary Lou Rhodes (left) gets a pumpkin painted on her face by Clarke County Parks and Recreation child care specialist Melinda Seals. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Mike McDonald, a farm assistant at Clermont Farm, prepares to plant a tree in one of the farm's pastures. The farm will plant 40 trees Saturday during “Historic Clermont Farm Day: Life on the Farm Then and Now” in one of its largest pastures. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

Berryville — Clermont Farm has a new name and date for its annual one-day open house, but the intention of offering an entertaining and educational outing hasn’t changed, organizers say.

“Historic Clermont Farm Day: Life on the Farm Then and Now” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and replace HarvFest, which typically took place in June, said Bob Stieg, CEO of The Clermont Foundation, which manages the property.

The event is the one time when the working farm and state research site, 801 E. Main St., Berryville, opens its gates to let people see what happens there the other 364 days, he said.

“We are interested in promoting Clarke County’s agricultural heritage and in talking about Clarke County’s history through this site,” he said. “We are also interested in providing families with a fun time.”

Admission is $5 for adults and free for ages 12 and younger.

This year, the event also added a Friday night activity, he said. The Woodshedders will play during an acoustic jam session from 7 to 9 p.m. in a barn on the property. Admission is $5. People who come Friday receive $1 off Saturday admission.

“People are invited to bring their instruments and participate in a jam session with the band,” Stieg said.

The farm day was moved to October because the weather in June has been hot the last two years, he said.

Several new events have been added to the day, which will include activities for adults and children, said Lisa Cooke, director of Clarke County Parks and Recreation, which co-sponsors with the farm for the event.

“People can come out and see the farm and what goes on here,” she said.

This year, the farm will plant 40 trees throughout the day in one of its largest pastures for a process known as “silvo-pasture,” Stieg said. The term refers to systematic planting of trees in pastures to improve the health and growth of livestock, the condition of the soil, and its capacity to hold water to prevent river pollution.

Stieg is also excited about the creation of a symbolic gateway in one of the farm’s pastures along Va. 7. Baltimore artists Andrew Shenker and Michael Benevento will create the sculpture “Gateway Between the Past and Present” out of wood and hay.

The work is a preview for the Clermont Interpretive Forum II to be held at the farm April 20 to June 1. The trustees invited 12 contemporary artists from the Mid-Atlantic region to “create works of art that interpret Clermont’s history.”

The other 10 artists work in the areas of sculpture, paintings, textiles, videography, photography and music, he said.

In honor of October being Virginia Archaeology Month, the farm will offer an archaeological tour of the 18th century “Snickers Graveyard” near the owner’s house and discuss the results of preliminary excavations. It will be held at 1:30 p.m.

At 2 p.m., Kenneth Koons, professor of history at Virginia Military Institute, will present a Civil War paper the foundation commissioned on “Farm Life Under Wartime Conditions in 1863.”

The day will also feature house tours, live music by the Dixie Moon Band, historical and family hay rides, a Native American dance demonstration, a book signing, and a tour of the historic tub mill, Stieg said.

Food and heritage crafts will be sold throughout the day.

A variety of special activities have been added for children throughout the day, he said.

At noon, Adeela Al-Khalili will offer a storytime for children in the slave quarters.

There will also be a corn bin for the children to dig through, face painting, farm animal temporary tattoos, crafts, a doughnut eating contest, an FFA petting zoo, a sack race and other activities, said Melinda Seals, child care specialist with parks and rec.

The event will be held rain or shine.


“Historic Clermont Farm Day: Life on the Farm Then and Now” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the historic farm, 801 E. Main St., Berryville. Admission is $5 for adults and free for ages 12 and younger. For more information, contact 540-955-0102 or go to

— Contact Laura McFarland at