Homestead Day at Venersborg: Learn, celebrate the old ways

Community feel marks gathering where people learn, celebrate the old ways




? What: A wreathmaking party.

? When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

? Where: Venersborg Schoolhouse, 24300 N.E. 209th St., Venersborg.

? Cost: Everything is free.

? Information:

Ellen Swatosh, 6, of Yacolt pets Ginger, a pygmy goat born in May, during Homestead Day. JR Robertson of Vancouver brought Ginger to the third annual event.

? What: A wreathmaking party.

? When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

? Where: Venersborg Schoolhouse, 24300 N.E. 209th St., Venersborg.

? Cost: Everything is free.

? Information:

VENERSBORG — There were chickens to slaughter, ice cream to crank, cider to press, pickles to preserve and more to learn here on Sunday as folks celebrated the old ways.

More than 100 people gathered at the 101-year-old Venersborg Schoolhouse for the third annual Homestead Day. Participants could learn about 16 different skills that were practiced by their parents and grandparents.

“There’s a lot of interest in canning and preserving,” said Kristine White, organizer of the event and president of the Venersborg Community Club. There are events in the schoolhouse almost every month. Venersborg is about three miles east of Battle Ground proper.

“I like that it’s historical. I like that it’s community,” Susan Tripp of Venersborg said of Homestead Day. She was telling people how they could create a “flower bomb” by combining clay, soil and wildflower seed. Allow that mix to dry and “toss it out in an ugly spot and you have a mini wildflower garden,” she said.

All ages were there.

Glen Montanye, 17, a Battle Ground High senior, said he enjoys the event.

“It’s really kind of cool to be able to do the things that were done when the schoolhouse was open,” he said. He was helping at the ice cream freezer.

JR Robertson of Vancouver brought the hand-powered ice cream freezer, the apple cider press, the pygmy goat Ginger, and homing pigeons to the event. “I just got stuff, and you gotta use it,” he said, smiling and pouring fresh apple cider.

“This is my favorite time of fall,” 10-year-old Sophia Ritton of Venersborg said. She was wearing an old-time bonnet. “I get to make ice cream and drink good cider. I feel comfortable around everybody, and it’s great.”

Amanda Hensley, 34, of Camas was teaching people how to make “quick pickles” in an hour or so. She’s a software developer but loves being a Master Food Preserver.

“I can because my mother cans and my grandmother cans,” Hensley said.

Nearby in the schoolhouse, Claire Niles of Hockinson was teaching young and old how to make freezer jam. Her students were 3 to adult. She also is a Master Food Preserver.

Despite rain, the spirits were high as the skills were taught inside and out.

“I think this is good because it gets us back to our pioneer days,” said Gene Derry, 72, of the Woodland area. “There was no Safeway. There was no Fred Meyer.”

And if you wanted to learn to butcher a chicken, two women who use that skill for their family’s dinner tables were there.

Karen Kennedy, 44, of La Center, and Dawn Swatosh, 43, of Yacolt, had more customers Sunday than in 2012. About 40 people watched as the women slaughtered four chickens at four classes.

Kennedy said many folks are worried about plucking feathers, but she said after the chicken has bled out, scalding it at 145 degrees makes the feathers come out easily.

And how long to get the bird ready for the over?

“After considerable practice, I’m down to 30 minutes,” Kennedy said.

Organizer White, whose husband, Duane, was offering ready-to-eat corn on the cob at the event, said Homestead Day will be back at the historic schoolhouse next September.