Blacksmiths to work outside the Pasto Museum during Ag Progress Days

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Pasto Agricultural Museum will feature genuine working blacksmiths during Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 18-20.

The Valley Smithey Ironworks, which produces contemporary works as well as historical reproductions that are of museum quality, will be on hand to demonstrate how iron work used to be done. Company founder and blacksmith Mike Reinard has worked with Colonial Williamsburg and Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, recreating historic pieces of ironwork.

"Their skills in traditional blacksmithing include the simple -- cut and forged nails -- to custom-made hinges for a replica of Robert E. Lee's footlocker used in Civil War re-enactments," said Rita Graef, Pasto Museum curator. "These craftsmen will demonstrate an art and science that was critical to the fabrication of early agricultural tools."

She urged Ag Progress Days visitors to stop at the top of Main Street where, almost every hour on the half hour, they can see these skilled craftsmen "cutting," "drawing," "setting," "welding" and "finishing" metal.

"You will even find a hand-wrought item or two in our Silent Auction, so you can take a bit of history home!" Graef said.

The annual Silent Auction is the single biggest fundraiser for the museum. Last year it generated more than $9,000, which was spent on refurbishing Dairy, Poultry, and Butchering exhibits. Proceeds from this year's Silent Auction have been earmarked to create a "Bussing Fund" that reimburses transportation costs for school field trips to the museum.

"Our primary outreach mission is to connect the science and history of our agricultural past to the present day. Our collection dovetails with Pennsylvania State Department of Education curriculum in History and Science from kindergarten through 12th grade," Graef said.

"We are proud to support the K-12 community in central Pennsylvania by providing reimbursement for bus transportation costs on a first-come, first-served basis."

Pasto staff will accept donations, inside the agricultural museum, on Tuesday and Wednesday of Ag Progress Days. Bidding closes at 3 p.m. sharp on Wednesday.

Also at the museum during Ag Progress Days, the Centre County Historical Society and Centre Furnace Mansion will complement the blacksmith demonstrations with its model of the iron furnace. And the Axe Whisperer will offer demonstrations on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The recently enlarged and renovated Pasto Agricultural Museum is located on East 10th Street near the top of Main Street on the Ag Progress Days site. It provides a comprehensive view of the era when energy for work was supplied by the power of humans and domesticated animals.

The approximately 1,300 items in the collection are concentrated in the time period between 1775 and 1940, although the assemblage of objects spans 6,000 years, from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s.

"Our emphasis is to provide visibility for technological developments in agriculture between 1775 and 1940," Graef said. "The mission of the Pasto Agricultural Museum is to provide the public with an understanding and appreciation for early agriculture and rural life, especially in Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States."

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event here.

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Last Updated July 23, 2015