Brody Heemstra, 5 of Northumberland, Zion Hostetter, 4 of Milton, and Landon Hostetter, 8 of Milton, reach for a potato as Deborah Wehr, of Mifflinburg, digs them out of the ground during Rural Heritage Days at the Dale/Engle/Walker House in Lewisburg on Wednesday afternoon.

LEWISBURG — Wednesday’s kickoff of Rural Heritage Days meant a lot to Jacob Engle.

“When the Walkers bequeathed this house to the county, I couldn’t picture a better scenario” to preserve the grounds and the memories there, he said.

That’s because Engle, who turns 82 today, was born in the Dale/Engle/Walker House in 1931. And seeing the throngs of kids and families enjoying the Children’s Day segment of the four-day event reminded him of his own time as one of 10 youngsters born and raised at the Lewisburg farm.

Much of what the children got to do Wednesday — candle-dipping, tug-of-war and especially playing with the farm animals — were how Engle, his siblings and other people who called the historic house home spent their time, he said.

And this 10th annual celebration brought out smiles and giggles and curious questions from what Union County Historical Society members said was great attendance.

“It’s been a very big crowd all day,” said Wally Watkins of the society, who was dressed in period clothes and helped guide people around the grounds. “Just waves of people coming and enjoying all we have.”

The weather, much cooler and less humid than usual for this time of year, surely had something to do with that. But learning how children lived and played on the grounds during the 18th century kept the children enthralled and busy.

“The kids have all kinds of questions” about the array of antique farm equipment in one of the barns, said Gary Spangler of the historic society, who oversees collecting the items.

The most asked question: “Did they use these things?” Spangler said with a laugh. Not many people, let alone children, these days see an iron bone crusher, used to grind remains from butchering into chicken feed, or antique sleighs and buggies.

As always, animals were a big attraction. This year’s heritage days featured many farm animals from goats — the youngsters got to try some milk — to pony cart rides and assorted fowl. A bin full of chicks and one full of ducklings got everyone’s attention as kids cuddled the fuzzy birds and parents snapped pictures. And who can resist holding a guinea pig or a bunny?

Kids also learned it wasn’t all play back in the day. Some helped Mihai Epuri, of HearthStone Masonry of Beaver Springs, put mortar between the stones of what used to be a barn wall.

Brooke Keister, 10, of Bloomsburg, said she was enjoying the work but wouldn’t want to do it full time. She also enjoyed log-throwing and was able to send the pole about halfway to its mark, she said.

Brooke’s brother Ben Keister, 14, had other feelings about the mortar: “It stinks,” he said, “but it’s fun.”

Epuri laughed and gave Ben some instruction about filling in between the stones.

Kilee Gallegos, 8, who came to Lewisburg by way of Colorado, summed up most feelings about this event: “I really liked it.”

Rural Heritage Days continues through Saturday.

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