Like most county fairgrounds across 21 country the Whitley County fairgrounds in Columbia City are silent...the exhibit barns empty, the grandstands abandoned. But there's more to see here than what's not here. Just look for the antique windmill.
“Each generation is getting farther away from the farm,” say Ron Myer, “and they don't understand how things used to be.”
If you want to get closer to 21Country's roots, America's roots, really, come to the Whitley County Agricultural Museum and 4H Learning Center and get educated. 4H teaches tomorrows farmers how to produce our food but this place teaches them how yesterday's farmers produced food. It took work, Compare the tractors of today with those of yesterday...quaint, no power steering. This 1924 Waterloo Boy is the first model tractor John Deere made. When these portable gas engines came along in the 1920's they were a godsend to the farm, running pumps and separators. Even washing machines. And along the walls above the exhibit floor, all the hand tools yesterday's farmer needed to feed and shelter his family. A real eye opener for the young people who come here.
“They need to realize how hard their ancestors and forefathers worked to put us where we're at today,” says museum volunteer Ron Myer. 'And where their food comes from', we add. “Yeh, they don't understand the food chain they don't have any idea,” says Myer.
The museum holds more than just old equipment, it's an education on what farm life was like with exhibits that explain it all...a one room school house, the farm kitchen with appliances and the tools of food preparation. Even a weaving room showing how wives and daughters made cloth and clothing. The farm was once a self-sufficient survival machine, everything needed to live grown or made on site. And laying the ground work for farm life and the AG industry today but with much of the work, self sufficiency and independence...even the romance...modernized out of existence. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 country.