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Heritage Farm Foundation raising funds for new projects

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Heritage Farm Foundation is reaching out to its supporters to help fund new projects that will teach both the young and old about the history of the area for years to come.

The foundation, which has operated the Heritage Farm Museum and Village since 2006, kicked off its first Friends of the Farm fundraising campaign Tuesday at its location on Harvey Road.

"This is the first time we've had a campaign so we want to establish our friend network and raise awareness throughout the community," said Audy Perry, whose parents founded the farm nearly 18 years ago. "It's always been a wonderful museum, but phase two involves the village coming alive with artisans, docents and re-enactors. What Williamsburg is to colonial, we'd like to be for Appalachia."

Hand-hewned stones and logs are already stacking up at the new visitor's center. Future additions also include a potter's shed, a gristmill, and new gates and entrances.

"It's a learning experience to see what the community would like to do because, in addition to growing the educational component, this will also be a tourism destination that helps the local economy," Audy Perry said.

The farm already hosts 5,000 students each year hoping to gain hands-on experience about life on an Appalachian farm and learn about local history in its six museums. The 500-acre property also includes five authentic Appalachian cabins that are available for families or groups to rent. Additionally, there are meeting facilities and lodging through the farm and village that accommodate up to 200 people.

"It's really important for young men and women to be able to not just read about history, but to see it. That's what they get to do here," said Lloyd Jackson, member of the West Virginia Board of Education. "There is no replacement for that in education. It's really important for them and equally important for folks who grew up around these kinds of things in their lives and households to enjoy that once again."

For more than 40 years, Mike and Henriella Perry have collected, preserved and displayed various artifacts of Appalachian heritage at the farm with the goal of preserving the items and teaching visitors about their ancestors and their skills and abilities.

During a presentation Tuesday, Mayor Steve Williams recognized the couple for their work to build Heritage Farm and preserve Appalachian heritage with a proclamation. In honor of their efforts, Williams designated the route from 14th Street West to Harveytown and out Harvey Road to the farm as the Honorary Mike and Henriella Perry Heritage Trail.

Those attending the fundraising dinner also enjoyed a new film by Huntington's Trifecta Productions that tells the story of pioneers settling region, narrated by Mike Perry.

"(Friends of the Farm can) help transform this remarkable center for Appalachian heritage into a destination where school children, families, businesses, and tourists can learn about our strong heritage and understand that flowing within our veins is the same characteristics and abilities that our ancestors had," Mike Perry said. "The challenges we face today are no more difficult than what our predecessors overcame. We are capable of building successful lives, strong families, and thriving businesses and communities, if we are willing to work as industriously and creatively as our ancestors."

More information on Heritage Farm can be found at www.heritagefarmmuseum.com.

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