When Ithaca Heritage partners first started planning the Authentically Rural Weekend (October 5-7, 2018), we had to think about what makes Tompkins County’s rural heritage distinctive and attractive to residents and visitors alike. Part of what makes Tompkins County distinctive is the continued vitality of rural areas with their own identities quite separate from the county seat of Ithaca. Trumansburg, Enfield, Newfield, Danby, Caroline, Lansing, Groton, Dryden—all of these are unique towns with their own identities that haven’t just become bedroom communities for Ithaca. Luckily we have a rich tradition of local historians and writers who have documented these rural communities.
One of those writers is Amy Dickinson, whose Mighty Queens of Freeville (2009) captures the complexities of small-town life in rural Tompkins County. In the book, Dickinson shares her difficult childhood growing up in Freeville and recounts her return as an adult, when she spends summer days with her daughter riding bikes, kayaking, and going “’porch visiting’—setting out from our house on Main Street and spending the day roaming from porch to porch—from grandmother to cousins to sisters to aunts—admiring gardens and drinking iced tea.” Dickinson describes the extended family ties, community traditions, farm-raised produce, and rural landscapes that define Freeville.
During the Authentically Rural Weekend, we’ll be exploring Freeville (“The only Freeville in the United States”!). Originally a hamlet known as White’s Mill, the village was a mill hub by the early 1800s and then later a railroad junction. A mix of Greek Revival and Queen Anne homes lines its Main Street. Explore the stories and people behind its historic architecture, along with two of its farms, on the Authentically Rural Farm & Village guided bus tour on Saturday, October 6, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Get your tickets ($35) today: https://tinyurl.com/y8elccrd.
For more information about the entire Authentically Rural Weekend of events, go to http://www.ithacaheritage.com/authentically-rural-weekend/.