Harvest Festival: History and fall fun
Gladys, Lola, and Midnight got lots of attention Saturday afternoon at Mather Homestead’s third annual Homestead Harvest Festival in Darien.
Gladys, a dwarf goat; Lola, a miniature potbelly pig, and Midnight, a lamb, were part of the attractions at the event, which drew several hundred people of all ages on a crisp and sunny fall day.
The festival took place on the Mather Homestead at 19 Stephen Mather Road. All proceeds went to the Mather Homestead, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Aside from goats and pigs, who all came from Pied Piper Pony Rides & Petting Zoo in Patterson, N.Y., the festival had face painting, pony rides, craft making, hula hoops, a scavenger hunt, bobbing for apples, and other activities.
Two new food vendors to the event this year were a brewing company that makes non-alcoholic Connecticut-brewed beers, and a company that makes brisket sandwiches.
The scavenger hunt provided participants with an opportunity “to let people enjoy the beauty of the property and explore it,” said Lauren Swenson, executive director of the Mather Homestead.
“This is our chance for families and children to enjoy the property and bring history to life,” Swenson said.
Darien resident Sarah Lippman, a volunteer at the Mather Homestead, said the goal of the Harvest Festival is to “raise awareness of this wonderful historic gem we have in our town.”
She added that she and her husband, who was born and raised in Darien, had passed by the Mather Homestead “a million times, and I asked him ‘What is that?’ and he didn’t know.”
By opening up the grounds and the house, “the community is able to see it and know what it is,” she said.
Events at Mather Homestead
The Harvest Festival is the Mather Homestead’s biggest family-friendly event, “aside from a tea party we do in the spring,” Lippman said.
The Mather Homestead also gives walking tours through the property once a month.
Further, it hosts all the fifth graders in town. “They come as part of their bus tour of town,” Lippman said.
The Boy Scouts have also visited and helped clean up the property.
“It’s so interesting that we have a home in town that’s built in 1778, and it’s been in the same family generation after generation,” Lippman said. “Now, the whole area can come and visit and see how this historic place has been recreated over the years for modern families to enjoy it year after year.”
The Mather Homestead was built by Deacon Joseph Mather at Middlesex Parish during the Revolutionary War. The home was kept within the Mather family, and passed down through seven generations.
The Mather Homestead was raided in 1782 by the Tories during the war. While the Tories found valuables in the well, “the family hid their silver in their highboy,” Swenson said. “The highboy had a hiding place on top and the Tories didn’t find the silver.”
Four generations later, the Mather Homestead was the home of Stephen Tyng Mather, founder of the National Parks Service.
For more information as well as upcoming activities, visit matherhomestead.org.