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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farming Heritage Day at the Sam Rayburn House Museum

By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum

Sam Rayburn House Museum hosted Farming Heritage Day on Saturday, October 2, 2010. The event offered visitors the opportunity to take part in farming activities, farm chores and dairy foods preparation, games, coloring activities, and hands-on demonstrations. Visitors also enjoyed free dairy treats such as cheese and ice cream.

Farming Heritage Day was developed to share Sam Rayburn’s love of farming and rural life with members of the contemporary community. The event included programs for both children and adults.
In tribute to Rayburn’s farming heritage, the event featured a cattle judging activity. As a Jersey cattle breeder, Rayburn had to know how well a cow could produce milk and reproduce offspring just by examining it. His cattle were considered some of the best in the region and known to give milk with a very high butterfat content, making them highly coveted at auction. In his later life, Rayburn began raising Polled Herefords for meat production. During Farming Heritage Day, participants learned about the traits that determine a good quality beef cow. Visitors then judged the cattle for themselves and entered their cattle score card for a chance to win movie tickets.
Farming Heritage Day activities included stations where visitors could learn to play lawn games, such as horseshoes and croquet along with Rayburn’s favorite game, dominoes. In his spare time, Rayburn preferred the simple aspects of rural country living, such as fishing, riding his horse throughout the nearby fields, and spending time with his family. One of the Rayburn family’s favorite activities was playing dominoes. They often gathered together in the home’s sitting room to play a domino game.
After Rayburn installed electricity in his home in 1935, the family eagerly added modern conveniences. A freezer was added and Lucinda Rayburn, Sam’s sister, was highly enthusiastic at the prospect of being able to make and easily keep frozen ice cream at home, something that they were unable to do previously. To add flavor to her vanilla ice cream, Lucinda often added Grape Nuts cereal to it to mimic the flavor of actual nuts. Visitors to Farming Heritage Day assisted in making homemade, hand churned ice cream and sampled it.
The Bells High School FFA from Bells, Texas gave a demonstration of the parliamentary procedure, something that Sam Rayburn was well-versed in. Other hands-on activities included farm chores, cornhusk doll-making, soil and water conservation, vegetable gardening, cotton seed planting, harvesting, and ginning along with demonstrations regarding popcorn and chickens.
For more information about Farming Heritage Day or the Sam Rayburn House Museum, contact Marion Wilson at 903.583.5558 or email marion.wilson@thc.state.tx.us or visit the museum’s website.

** The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located at 890 W. State Hwy. 56, two miles west of Bonham, in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

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