A slower, simpler way of life existed at one time, decades ago. A life without cell phones, iPods, tablets and computers…how did we ever get along without those devices? It was called hard work; work that brought great pride in a finished product, whether it was making sure the grain was cut in the fields, baling hay in the barn, shearing sheep to make clothing or pressing apples to make cider…it was labor that garnered an honest living and a content heart.

At this year’s Rural Life Festival, hosted by members and friends of Newburg United Methodist Church Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, visitors will get a first-hand look at what life on the farm, and in the field used to look like.

In its 27th year, the festival is a day full of demonstrations and information about a time that many of the younger spectators have only read about in books, or heard stories about as told by their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

A host of exhibitors will demonstrate everything from the art of broom making, threshing grain and making hay, to corn shelling and cider making.

A popular event for folks of all ages, the festival’s venue doesn’t change much from year to year. However, organizers are always looking for new and different exhibitors to add to the mix. Most recently, for instance, the festival had its first-ever scrapple-making demonstration, along with a butchering display. Omar Barnhart, one of the original organizers of the festival, said not many folks actually know, or have seen how scrapple is made, or had ever watched the process from start to finish.

Barnhart and the late Bill Heberlig brainstormed the idea for the festival as a way for the community to experience life as it used to be. The all-day event focuses on a way of life that made Newburg what it is today.

Traditionally, the United Methodist Church has a Rural Life Day celebration which is usually held in late fall or early winter. Barnhart and Heberlig wanted to do something in the spring-summer when a lot of the planting and harvesting takes place, that way people could actually see how things were done. That idea took off and has continued to grow. When the festival started more than two decades ago, there were demonstrations of hay making, sheep herding and a barn raising.

Moving forward to today, demonstrations of potato raising, butter churning, baking bread from grain-to-loaf, log hewing and slinging hay have been added to the lineup. There will also be a working steam engine on hand to help thresh the grain, antique car and tractor displays and sheep-to-shawl demonstrations.

The festival will take place on the church grounds located at 203 N. High St. in Newburg. Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day. There will be something for all ages to enjoy, including miniature train rides, a petting zoo and a pedal tractor pull for the children. While many of the events and demonstrations will take place outside, inside the church will be busy as well. Quilting demonstrations, antique displays and other less strenuous activities will be housed in the fellowship hall area. There will be plenty of food available, too, including sausage sandwiches, barbecue chicken, homemade soups, soft pretzels, ice cream and other homemade goodies. Live gospel music will be heard throughout the day, and on Saturday evening, as well.

An auction of antique items and donated goods will also be held indoors Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s activities include morning worship at 10:30 under a tent, followed by a picnic lunch.

For more information, call the church office at: (717) 423-6223.

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