By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Curator
Every year since 2009, the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site invites the community to celebrate the history of farming during Farming Heritage Day.
This year’s event included fun and educational hands-on activities for children and adults. Visitors made butter and ice cream, cornhusk dolls, and a woven craft. They also took part in various rural life chores, such as grinding coffee beans, scrubbing laundry, and planting seeds for their own gardens.
Demonstrations were plentiful. Students from the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at Texas A&M University–Commerce brought a miniature cotton gin and offered cotton picking and ginning demonstrations. Madeleine Messersmith gave wool spinning and weaving demonstrations. Members of the Wylie Antique Machinery Society brought four antique tractors and several engines. The society members gave demonstrations using the engines to grind corn, just like the Rayburns did on their farm.
Everyone tried their hand at lawn and parlor games. Croquet, dominoes, horseshoes, and marbles were part of the day’s fun.
Sam Rayburn bought a Model T during his first race for the U.S. Congress in 1912. In celebration of his Ford-owning history, Dr. William King and his wife Eugenia brought a 1911 Ford Model T to display during the event. Steve and Karen Holbrook, owners of the Carleton House Bed and Breakfast in Bonham, brought their 1931 Ford Model A for visitors to view as well.
Members of local 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs brought various show animals to the event. Visitors got up close and personal with cattle, goats, a lamb, a mini-horse, and rabbits.
Rayburn raised Hereford cattle at home in Bonham and on his ranch in Ivanhoe. He was well-known for breeding the best cattle in the area. During Farming Heritage Day, a cattle-judging contest brought out the competitive nature in many event attendees. The Doyle Hereford Ranch in Wolfe City brought six Hereford heifers to the event. Visitors were asked to judge the cattle based on ideal Hereford characteristics, picking their top choices from one to four. Correct entries were entered into a drawing and received prizes donated by Ag Power in Sherman and the Friends of Sam Rayburn.
Everyone enjoyed lunch provided by the Friends of Sam Rayburn with water donated by Brookshire’s. Hand cranked, homemade vanilla ice cream made for a delicious dessert.
This fun and free event will return next year. Be sure to join us!
The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located at 890 W. State Hwy. 56, two miles west of Bonham, in the Texas Lakes Trail Region. It tells the real story of Sam Rayburn, one of the most powerful and influential politicians of the 20th century, in his authentic 1916 home. Preserved as a period time capsule, the two-story home contains all original Rayburn furnishings.