On Sept. 20, Pittsfield Charter Township celebrated its heritage with the seventh annual Harvest Festival. Families came to the historic Sutherland-Wilson Farm to hear music, play games, ride on a hay wagon, learn about their history, get close to farm animals and otherwise enjoy the event.
This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the first survey of the region. Craig Amey, a surveyor himself, told visitors how it was done in the 19th century.
Charting of Michigan territory began in 1815 and continued until 1857, 20 years after it became a state. The survey started in the southeast corner and ended in the Upper Peninsula according to Amey.
Amey provided detailed descriptions of the tools these pioneers used and the challenges they encountered. Distances were measured in chains and links. The chains were 66 feet long composed of 100 links.
Treasurer Patricia Scribner kicked off the event. Just before the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic entertained the crowd with songs and strings, the renovated mid nineteenth century barn on the property was dedicated.
Donald and Betty LeClair participated in the ribbon cutting for the barn that has been named in their honor. They were charter members of the Pittsfield Charter Township Historical Society and leaders in the restoration project.
The farm has limited parking. People arrived at the celebration both by shuttle bus from the Harvest School parking lot and by the new Lohr-Textile Pathway.
The many children who came were delighted by the opportunity to touch and feed friendly farm animals at the petting zoo. At other times their parents directed them to sit on a tractor, a hobbyhorse, and a nineteenth century carriage for cute photos. They did not seem to mind.
Families also enjoyed a hayride through the adjoining neighborhood and games such as beanbag toss and ladder toss. A food vendor provided hotdogs.
The historical society had a bake sale, a woodcraft sale and a half price sale for bricks for their Pave the Path project. All of these were fundraisers for the group.
Various historical society members participated in giving tours of the old Sutherland farmhouse. It was built in the 1840s and housed six generations of Sutherlands until 2000 when the township purchased it for a historical museum.
The house is still undergoing restoration, often to remove things that have been added over the years. However several rooms are open for viewing and contain period furnishings.
The Rentschler Farm Museum in the City of Saline hosts Harvest Time from noon to 5 p.m., Oct. 24.