For 50 years, Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm has been educating visitors about what living on a farm in 1800s Pennsylvania was like, thanks to Alice and Wendell Wicks and their daughter and son-in-law, Sue and Gary Oiler. So it was with great pleasure that the Oilers and the board of directors hosted an opening reception for the 50th Anniversary of Quiet Valley at the Engle Education Building on the farm.
Monroe County Commissioner Charlie Garris presented a plaque to Ron Myzie, vice president of Quiet Valley's board of directors.
"We hope you have 50 and 100 more years," Garris said.
Guests, like Greg Christine, chief clerk to the commissioners, were treated to samplings of hors d'oeuvres, desserts and punch made by Quiet Valley members and volunteers.
Lou DiPasquale was in charge of the kitchen. His wife, Deb, the farm's director of marketing, special events and volunteers, planned the menu.
"Lou always makes it happen for me. He's a great cook and in the summer he is the head baker at the farm at our outdoor brick oven," she says.
As the Oilers, who are co-founders of Quiet Valley and retired farm managers, milled around the room, greeting visitors, they reminisced about what the last 50 years have meant to them.
"It's been a wonderful place to work and raise my children. I enjoyed working with a diverse group of people and working with the school children have been the highlight of my career. Learning to spin and weave have become my favorite pastimes, but I enjoy lots of crafts that are historically inspired," said Sue.
It was her parents, Alice and Wendell Wicks who purchased the property over 50 years ago and Alice's vision of turning it into a living farm museum.
Alice, known as Gram, remained actively involved in the management of the museum and played her role in the 1830 bedroom for over 30 years until her retirement in 2001 at the age of 85.
Gary's one regret is that they had not taken pictures of the farm 50 years ago when it was in such a run down state.
"When we first started cleaning up the property, poison ivy was every where. We couldn't keep any animals because of the raccoons and foxes. It was a lot of work. This has been our life. I taught agriculture and horticulture at Bangor High School. Before and after school, I'd come to the farm to feed and clean the animals. This farm was our hobby. But it was also a wonderful place to raise our children. They learned how to work."
Since 1963, Quiet Valley has been open to the public from June 20 to Labor Day, daily, except Mondays, with special events held throughout the year.
Volunteers dress in period costume as 'family members' of the original owners, the Deppers, Meyers and the Marshes, and reenact life on the farm during two time periods 1830 in the granddaddy cabin, cellar kitchen and bedroom; and 1893 in the 'new' kitchen and parlor.
The actors strive to make their first-person interpretations as authentic as possible and they are always just as entertaining as they are educational.
Family members also show visitors the barn, complete with the appropriate farm animals and demonstrations of period farm equipment.
A variety of 19th century crafts and skills are demonstrated daily with special demonstrations scheduled several times a week.
The farm grows traditional crops and uses authentic methods to the period to plant and harvest the crops.
The farm has been owned and operated as a nonprofit, educational corporation governed by a board of directors since 1974.
Quiet Valley is supported by grants from: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Monroe County Commissioners and Field Crops.
According to Deb DiPasquale, director of marketing, special events and volunteers, some of Quiet Valley's upcoming special events this year are: the Valentine Workshops and luncheon, Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Annual Farm Animal Frolic, May 18, 19, 25, 26; Summer Garden Party & Victorian Tea on Saturday, June 15; Music in the Valley & Rooster Run, Saturday, July 13; Heritage Craft Day & Anniversary Auction, Saturday, Aug. 3; Pocono State Craft Festival & NJ Frontier Encampment, Saturday, Sunday, Aug. 24 and 25; Annual Harvest Festival, Oct. 12, 13; Annual Old Time Christmas, Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15.
To be announced, on the farm's website, is the annual ice harvest, when the ice is thick enough and there is maple sugaring sometime in March.