PENFIELD, Ill. — Raffle tickets for a miniature combine will be sold at the museum located in the former Penfield school on the showgrounds of the Historic Farm Days, set for July 8-11.
“This combine was made by one of our members, Glenn Miller,” said Jane Berbaum, who is co-chairwoman of the museum with Betty Bensyl. “He has done several of these for us over the years depending on the brand we’re featuring.”
A large variety of farm-related items, ranging from hand tools to implements, fill two floors of the building that once was a place for learning for students from the Penfield area.
“Glenn brings a selection of toy models to display in the cabinets in the museum,” Berbaum said. “The toys are fantastic, and his wife, Mary, helps with our household exhibit.”
Most of the items in the museum have been donated, and some are on loan from members of the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.
“Sometimes items appear and I may not even know what they are or who donated it,” Berbaum said. “So, then I do a little Sherlock Holmes work.”
Occasionally, Berbaum will hold up an item at an I&I club meeting to ask members if they can identify an item or how it was used.
“It is a never-ending process for our museum workers to catalog the items that come in to document who was the owner and a little information about the piece,” Berbaum said.
Visitors have the opportunity to see two very special items in the museum that are on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
“The first one we got is the 1961 International Harvester HT-341 Turbine Tractor,” Berbaum said. “The next year, we got the 1903 Hart-Parr tractor.”
In addition to the two tractors, the former gym features a couple of additional tractors, as well as larger items such as a sheller, hay equipment and a couple of buggies.
“The stairway to the second floor goes to the small farming items,” Berbaum said. “We display tools that might have been used for farming from the 1920s to ’50s.”
The four former classrooms on the main level of the school have been transformed into exhibit areas by the club members.
“Our household exhibit has an old-fashioned kitchen area with several washing machines,” Berbaum said.
“During the ’60s there were colored refrigerators and stoves and a couple of those pieces have been donated to us,” Berbaum said. “We will be highlighting a pink stove with an oven in the household exhibit.”
The ladies auxiliary of the I&I club staff this area of the museum during the show, and each year they like to showcase something different.
“The household exhibit is going to feature ladies’ and men’s hats, and there will also be some hat boxes on display,” Berbaum said.
“I have a few of my mother’s hats that are the pill box hats with a veil,” Berbaum said. “They are nothing real fancy, but they are the ones she wore to church.”
Museum displays include memorabilia from the Penfield school including a grade school band uniform.
“That’s at least 50 to 60 years old, and we have it displayed on a child mannequin.” Berbaum said.
Another room in the museum is a replica of an International Harvester store.
“It has shelving, and there are displays of all kinds of IH things,” Berbaum said. “I remember going with my dad to buy parts at a store like it.”
The members of the IH Collectors Club Illinois Chapter 10 staff this area of the museum during the show.
“The club members like to gather there because that room has a nice cool breeze,” Berbaum said.
In the corn room of the museum, visitors will see items like planters, seed corn sacks, signs and shellers.
The I&I club uses the former cafeteria in the school as its meeting room.
“On the walls of that room we have posters and memorabilia from the Historic Farm Days from the beginning and also the Half Century of Progress show since day one,” Berbaum said. “There is lots of stuff to look at in that room.”
Visitors to the show also have the opportunity to tour the former Penfield Methodist Church on the showgrounds.
“This year we are going to feature church cookbooks and church plates,” Berbaum said. “We’ll see what comes in. We never know how many and what we’re going to get until the day before the show.”
In the past, displays in the church have featured crosses, nativity sets, hymn books, bibles and Christmas ornaments.
Berbaum has been involved with the ladies auxiliary since it was started.
“My husband, Dave, and his brother joined the club in the early ’90s, and the men kept talking about a ladies auxiliary,” she said. “When Dave was president of the group, he asked if I would help start the ladies auxiliary, and I’ve been involved ever since we started in 1997.”
For more information about the Historic Farm Days, go to www.historicfarmdays.com, or call 217-595-5000.