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Hale Farm marking 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Abraham Lincoln impersonator Gerald Payn will be on hand at Hale Farm & Village’s “Thanksgiving Dinner With President Abraham Lincoln.”
Photo courtesy of Hale Farm & Village
BATH — A program with dinner at Hale Farm & Village Nov. 16 will highlight that Thanksgiving’s history isn’t just about the Pilgrims.

“Thanksgiving Dinner With President Abraham Lincoln” marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s proclamation that set aside the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

Hale Farm has had a similar November event for the past few years, said Margaret Roulett, education and public program coordinator, sometimes called a Harvest Dinner. This year’s meal will allow participants to experience what Thanksgiving was like in 1863.

Lincoln impersonator Gerald Payn, of Wooster, who has been part of other events the past few years at Hale Farm, will participate.

“He will recite the proclamation, along with the Gettysburg Address,” said Catherine Sterle, Hale Farm sales manager.

Jeff Jones, a museum educator at Hale Farm, said Payn does a good job portraying the 16th president.

“He looks the part and he dresses the part,” Jones said. “He’s done research into how Abraham Lincoln talked, the words that he used and the jokes he cracked. Abraham Lincoln was quite a jokester and had a good sense of humor. He also took himself very casually. He could take an insult and turn it around to his advantage.”

Other Hale Farm staff will attend as costumed interpreters. Jones said he will portray John Burns, a national hero whom Lincoln wanted to meet when he visited Gettysburg in 1863.

The event will get under way at 3:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres. Children can take part in crafts and enjoy storytelling. The book “Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving,” about Sarah Hale (no relation to the local family), who petitioned presidents for many years to have a national Thanksgiving holiday, will be featured.

A big part of the Hale Farm event is the dinner that will be served family-style. It will include turkey with gravy, whipped potatoes, stuffing, a squash medley and salad, as well as rolls and butter. Some of the ingredients used in the meal will come from the gardens at Hale Farm, Sterle said.

A selection of pies will be offered for dessert. Drinks will include hot cider, coffee and tea, in addition to a cash bar with Ohio craft beers and mulled wine.

Jones said that in 1863, even as the Civil War continued, Northerners were counting their blessings.

“There’s a lot of things 150 years ago that the North would have been real thankful for,” he said. “Not only did they win at the Battle of Gettysburg, but the same day [Union General Ulysses S.] Grant accepted the surrender at Vicksburg. The North had gone through some real trying times. The November harvest was looked upon as the bounty of God, and they took that seriously.”

While Thanksgiving had been celebrated before Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday with a specific day, it had been marked at different times of the season throughout the country, Jones said. But, he added, there aren’t a lot of differences between the earlier celebrations and those of today.

“It was families getting together and thanking God for the bounty,” Jones said. “A lot of celebration was centered in the church. There was a feeling that, now we’re going to be in our homes for a long time, let’s get together before the winter shuts us up in our homes.”

Reservations are required for the dinner and can be made up until the morning of Nov. 16 by calling 330-666-3711, ext. 1720, or by email at halereservations@wrhs.org. Tickets are $40 for ages 13 and older, $30 for members and $15 for children ages 3-12. Hale Farm is located at 2686 Oak Hill Road.

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