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Perrys call humanitarian award humbling

Mar. 02, 2010 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Michael and Henriella Perry, most well-known for their ownership of Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Wayne County, said they were humbled during a ceremony in their honor Sunday night.

The couple, who have been married for 51 years, received the Donald R. Myers Humanitarian Award from the Development District Association of Appalachia at a dinner event at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va.

"Henriella and I are deeply appreciative and honored to be the recipients of this prestigious award," Michael Perry said during his speech. "Receiving this award from two organizations that have contributed so much to the citizens of Appalachia (Development District Association of Appalachia and the Appalachian Regional Commission) is the highlight of our family efforts."

Henriella Perry added that the honor has motivated them to further carry on their mission for the next generation.

"The Perrys have an incredible message about the future for all Appalachians and especially their children," said Michele Craig, executive director of Region II Planning and Development for the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission. Craig's group nominated the Perrys.

Added Congressman Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va.: "The Perrys have made us all so extremely proud of our Appalachian heritage. Through their tireless efforts they have ensured that our future generations will be just as proud."

Recipients are characterized as leading growth and development in Appalachia, enhancing their local communities and reinforcing Appalachian values. Nominations can be submitted from any of the 13 states that make up the Appalachian Regional Commission.

"Rahall was there. He put us right up there. And Sen. (Jay) Rockefeller did a lengthy video praising the farm," Michael Perry said. "For two kids from Wayne County, it was a fantastic evening.

"It was a marvelous experience to be with my sweet wife ... to hear people say great things about the farm," he continued. "To hear those kinds of things coming from people of that stature and national perspective was humbling and very gratifying."

In addition, Huntington video production company Trifecta Productions produced a video showing the Perrys and the growth of the farm. He said it provided unimaginable national exposure.

The roots of the farm and museum were planted when the Perrys started collecting antiques. In 1973, they sold their brick home on Huntington's Southside and moved with their daughters and son into a log farm house in Harveytown, just over the Wayne County line.

About 15 years ago, a cornfield started to become what is now the main street of Heritage Farm. They started bringing in log buildings from other places, by disassembling them, transporting the parts and reassembling them here.

Heritage Farm now has a zoo with animals like pigs, llamas, donkeys, rabbits and turtles. It has a Progress Building with thousands of antiques used through the centuries. It has kitchen displays from different eras, a spinning wheel to show how thread was made, old printing presses and an old-fashioned soda shop, complete with sundaes made of wax.

"Our mission is not about getting lost in the past," he said. "It's about how exciting the future could be if we develop a pride in our heritage."

The annual spring festival at Heritage Farm is scheduled for Saturday, May 1.

For more information about the farm, visit www.heritagefarmmuseum.com or call 304-522-1244.