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Visitors awed by display of Colonial crafts at Lawrence fair

Brandon Guarded, 7, of Inwood, watches as Barbara

Brandon Guarded, 7, of Inwood, watches as Barbara Beckman gives a spinning demonstration at the Rock Hall Museum Country Fair in Lawrence on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Credit: Linda Rosier

Connie Lin of Merrick buys her brooms at Target, and watching a woman in 19th century dress craft a broom by hand on Saturday, although fascinating, isn’t going to prompt her to run out and buy a broom-making machine anytime soon.

“It’s a lot of steps,” Lin said with a smile. “It’s too hard.”

The broom-making demonstration was one of the glimpses of Early American life on display during the 32nd annual Rock Hall Country Fair, at the Rock Hall Museum in Lawrence.

Volunteers in period costumes wandered around the 250-year-old Georgian-style mansion on the property, explaining its history and Colonial life, while outside visitors learned how to weave and watched a blacksmith craft tools.

Lin’s 9-year-old son Jason was captivated by the broom-making device.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “I’ve never seen a handmade broom.”

Lauri Beckerman, 24, put stalks of “broomcorn,” a type of sorghum long used to make brooms, into the wood-and-metal machine.

She then turned a wheel to bind the stalks together with hemp twine before cutting off the bristled ends with a guillotine-type device, to create an even surface for sweeping.

Near the side of the house, Diane Fish was stewing chicken, onions and herbs in a metal pot hanging over an open fire.

“Look, Bella, that’s how they used to cook,” Judi Schaffer, of Atlantic Beach, said to her 6-year-old granddaughter, who was visiting from Brooklyn.

“It’s easier to teach a kid by showing and doing than by reading something in a book,” Schaffer said.

Fish also was slicing up samples of two old-fashioned desserts: citron pound cake and what a 1739 edition of “The Compleat Housewife” cookbook calls “cheesecake,” although it actually is made from potatoes, along with eggs, butter, nutmeg and sugar.

Sam Gordon, 22, of Long Beach, liked the poundcake. The cheesecake, not so much.

“It’s a bit plain,” she said. “Maybe if it had sauce.”

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