Longstreets’ Annual Country Fair

Article contributed by Jeff Morelli

One of the jewels of the Monmouth County Park System is Longstreet Farm, Located in Holmdel, NJ. It is a living history farm in the setting of around 1890 when the labor was done without the help of electricity or the internal combustion engine. Man and animal work together as they have done previously for centuries. Workers are dresses in period costume and educate the public about life on the farm before the industrial revolution changed the pace and methods of work for the common man.

NJBA members were invited to man the forge at Longstreets’ Annual Country Fair on October 7th. This was a great 19th century event for the whole family which included potato sack races, pie eating contests, hayrides, quilting, corn shelling cider making, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, branding, a magic show and much more. Norman Nelson and I hammered away inside the farms own blacksmith shop.

Norm has been working at Longstreet for a number of years. His life experience and knowledge of farming, smithing, machinery, etc. makes him a true resource of rural American history and know-how. Always eager to share what he’s learned Norm is an asset to Longstreet Farm and to our club.

Through out the day I forged flint strikers from files, letting folks play with them and take some home. Norm started off making hooks and tools, but the continuous “Oh, look, he’s making horseshoes!” eventually convinced him to give in and forge a few. Phil Andrus had dozens lined up at the rivet forge as he branded wooden shingles and gave them out. We kept our forges going for over seven hours and had the clinkers to prove it!

Due to excellent weather and advertising, thousands came through. Hours were 10 am to 5 pm. At its peak Park Officials estimated an amazing one thousand people on the farm at one time. We burned 75% of our work up in the fire while trying to answer the hundreds of questions.

I encourage more NJBA members to help out in 2001, even if just for an hour or two. Bring some of your work and your business cards if you have them. It’s also a great event to try to recruit new members.