Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum

For 50 years, the Waterloo Area Historical Society has celebrated “Michigan Farm Life” on Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum. It is a slice of 19th century farm Americana. Think an intimate Henry Ford Museum, but way better. 

Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum

The gorgeous October day helped draw a large crowd to the Waterloo Farm Museum to enjoy live music, and demonstrations of crafts, trades, and traditional cooking methods. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! 

Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-109

The Backstory 

The Waterloo Farm Museum is a memorial to the Michigan Pioneer Farm. In January 1967, the Waterloo Area Historical Society was founded to preserve the farm and that same year the 1st Pioneer Day was held in October. In my grandmother Ruth’s papers I found an invitation to the event dated October 13,1968. It included a sweet description of the farm,  “This a gentle-re-creation of an early Michigan farm home of 1855-1885.”

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Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-111

On the back of the invite, it noted the rural school museum was open also. It is likely she attended and probably took with her some combination of her grandchildren. Ruth, my grandmother, taught school in a one-room school house and would have been drawn to the rural school museum. Here are a few posts if you’d like to read more about her:

I have a faded memory of attending an event at the Waterloo Farm Museum with my father. It is more like a whiff of a memory or catching a flash of an image through a view finder toy. 

Farm Exhibits

The farm exhibits were a helpful reminder of how far we’ve come. The shear volume of work the pioneers endured each day is mind blowing. Whew, I was exhausted just watching it. 

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Traditional Cooking and Beer

My goodness, there was no fast food in the 19th century. 

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In addition to traditional cooking, there was a demonstration of open kettle beer brewing. As a bonus, you could sample a little bit of this wild beer.

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Pioneer Day 2017-17

Dried Flower Arrangements 

Demonstrations and the opportunity to make our own dried flower arrangement were available. Plus, you could buy dried flower arrangements. 

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Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-109

Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-109

Live Music

Music filled the air at the Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum. You could listen to fun and festive bluegrass or relaxing dulcimer music. All the musicians were more than willing to share their knowledge about the music of the times.

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Re-enactors

The re-enactors were my favorite element of the event. They wanted to talk and share history. It was all I could do to not put them in my pocket and take them home with me.

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Baked Good Contest

It was an honest to goodness pie contest. It was a delicious treat to watch the judges. I was a wee bit jealous. 
 
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Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-11

Craftsmen and Craftswomen 

During Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum a variety of trades were demonstrated. I especially loved the goggle-wearing blacksmith. 

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Horse Drawn Wagon Rides

I’m afraid of horses. Yep, it is true. When I was 4 or 5, my sister’s horse tried to take a chunk out of my back. Maybe I was teasing it with an ear of corn or maybe the horse was mean. (That memory has NOT faded with time!)  I stood way back while Chuck took these pictures. I warned him several times to stand clear. The wagon driver shouted to us the horses’ names. I wished I written them down. They were something like Fred and Jack. Or maybe it was Bob and Larry.

Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-14

Pioneer Day at the Waterloo Farm Museum - 2017-98

Other Museum Events

In December is another opportunity to visit this lovely living museum with Christmas on the Farm

Love Michigan History 

If you love Michigan History, here are links to stuff you should check out. 

We have more photos in the gallery

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3 Comments

  1. Hi, Arlene & Ron,

    I have been working with a band, fron Ann Arbor, that plays country/folk music. I would like to include them in your events. As well as myself. They are ‘older’ guys, and have had them play a few gigs in the A2 & Ypsi, areas. Also, The Tin Penny Band is back out, on the road in 2019

    Reply
    • Hi Eddie, I sent your message to Arlene. Thanks much for your comment on your blog.

      Reply
  2. The Waterloo Area Historical Society was founded in 1962. There has been a “Fall Festival “ now Pioneer Day since October 1962.
    The Pie Contest, not Baked Goods Contest.
    The next event is Blacksmith-Soldiers and Log Cabin Weekend June 22-23.
    Antique Tractor-Truck and Farm Equipment Show August 10-11

    Reply

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