Berry festival helps keep county's farm past alive


June 04, 2000|By Rosalie Falter | Rosalie Falter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THERE COULD NOT be a better place to hold a strawberry festival than historic Benson-Hammond House.

Although immigrant workers picked many kinds of produce for Baltimore markets in the mid- to late 1800s, strawberries were the farm's specialty.

To celebrate the history of the truck farm, the AnnArrundellCounty Historical Society is sponsoring the 10th annual strawberry festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the museum grounds, at Aviation and Andover roads. Parking and admission to the festival are free.

Featured will be crafts, music, a country store, pony rides, moon bounce, bake, book, plant and white elephant sales, and strawberry goods - desserts, and "Strawberry Wine" with the Benson-Hammond House label.

A.C. Moore Crafts is supplying make-and-take crafts for the children, and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police is offering child fingerprinting.

But perhaps most important is the strawberry festival's celebration of the rich heritage of Anne Arundel County farms, and its role as one of the society's fund-raisers to support the maintenance of the property and outbuildings.

One of these outbuildings is a summer kitchen, separate from the house, that will be open for viewing Saturday.

As with many farmhouses in the early days, kitchens were detached - helping to keep the house cool and minimize the risk of fire to the dwelling.

Although the original summer kitchen there was destroyed, the one on the property now is very similar - secured from the Cromwell Farm in Ferndale less than a mile away.

Carol Riley, coordinator of the festival, said she and Dorothy Singleton, vice president for educational activities, aim to develop tours of the historical house and conduct programs in the summer kitchen that will be geared to children, and available for schools across the county.

Thomas Benson built the house in 1820 on three acres of rich farmland. Ownership changed in 1887 when Rezin Howard Hammond bought it.

In 1947, the house and land were sold for development of what was originally Friendship Airport.

The state bought Friendship Airport and the farm from Baltimore in 1972, beginning decades of growth and expansion as Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The house was rented for a few years, then went into a period of dormancy and eventual ruin.

It was restored to original condition by the Ann Arrundell Historical Society, and remains the headquarters for the nonprofit group.

Benson-Hammond House also serves as a museum, housing many collections - among them a famous picker check collection - of the tokens given to field hands to keep track of their work for payment, and a vast doll museum.

There is a Browse and Buy Shop on the first floor that sells donated and consigned antiques and collectibles.

Free parking for the festival is available at Lindale-Brooklyn Park Middle School at Andover and Hammonds Ferry roads, along with transportation to the Benson-Hammond House grounds on the Berry Shuttle Bus. Or you can walk seven-tenths of a mile on the BWITrail.

The summer kitchen will be open to all visitors, with tours of the main house available for a fee of $2.

Tables for crafts vendors are $15 each, and two for $25. For information, call Carolyn Dalton at 410-544-2616.

For further information about the event or the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society, call the Benson-Hammond House at 410-768-9518between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Church fair

Rain or shine, Peace Lutheran Church will hold its annual spring fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The church is at 416 Wellham Ave.

Activities will include a rummage sale, a country store, bake sale, games, face painting, food and an auction, as well as door prizes and music.

Information: 410-766-3283.

AARP banquet

Patapsco Valley Chapter 3850 of the American Association of Retired Persons will hold its annual June banquet from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 15 at La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie.

The chapter's entertainment group, Notables, will perform and Key Revue will provide music for dancing.

Tomorrowis the deadline for reservations.

Call 410-859-3457or 410-519-3092.

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