Ag Day showcases country life

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A smile grew across the face of Florence Van Tassel when she told Sunset Elementary School fourth graders how laundry was done when she was a child.

Van Tassel moved to Craig when she was 2 years old. That was 81 years ago.

"We started by heating water in this boiler on the stove," said Van Tassel, who pointed to a copper boiler resting on a wood-burning stove inside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. "We even made the soap."

On Friday, Van Tassel was part of Ag Day demonstrations at the Fairgrounds. She taught elementary schoolchildren about the importance of agriculture in this part of the country.

Students from East, Sunset and Ridgeview elementary schools took turns at the displays about this year's theme: "You just can't have an Ag-less day in Moffat County."

The Moffat County Cowbelles sponsored the annual demonstrations, and the local 4-H program assisted. Demonstrations included sessions about farm equipment, wool-dying and spinning.

"This wool has been spun, and now it's on the loom," said Lori Longwell, who spoke to students about the uses of wool. "I'm making a rug out of it."

Longwell and her daughters, Bethany and Hanna, are experienced at wool dying. They have tried everything including aspen leaves and rabbit brush to dye their wool to their favorite colors.

Their display covered ttaking wool from the sheep, then through the dying and spinning to the finished product, such as the sweater that Hanna was wearing.

At Van Tassel's laundry display, students hung their washed clothes on a clothesline with antique clothespins. Their next stop was the ironing board, complete with forged, 10-pound irons.

"I call this grandma's wash day," Van Tassel said. "I ask them where grandma got her water from for washing clothes."

The answer, she said, is from melting snow in the winter, and creeks in the summer. The fourth-graders then turned their attention to the homemade soap and old washboard.

Van Tassel, whose father homesteaded in the Yampa Valley, has the experience of raising four children herself. She enjoyed working with the youths Friday.

"I like kids," she said. "We have been doing this demonstration for years. It gets grandma out of the house."

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