“Songs of the Season”
Thursday, Dec. 3rd, 2015
Friends Meeting House
14 Union St
Medford NJ 08055
Sun, Dec. 6th, 2015
Dr James Still
211 Church Rd
Medford NJ 08055
By Sean Patrick Murphy Staff Writer
MEDFORD — The line for the apple cider doughnuts was more than 50 people deep Saturday morning at the 37th annual Apple Festival at historic Kirby's Mill. "Everyone comes here for the apple cider doughnuts," said Phillip Ungerer, of Lumberton. "Don't let anyone try to tell you it's anything else." He strolled along the festival grounds between tents of food and craft vendors with his dog, Guinness. "I love going to fairs to see what everyone has to offer," Ungerer said. He said he also enjoyed the picture perfect weather, the friendly atmosphere and the representation by small business owners. Holly Doyle, vice president of event sponsor, Medford Historical Society, said the event raises much needed funds to maintain Kirby's Mill, a historical landmark in the township. Kirby’s Mill was the last operating commercial mill in New Jersey and is the last standing mill on the Rancocas Creek, according to the historical society. It dates back to the late 1770s.
She said the turnout was great and that they hoped to raise $10,000 from the event. The nonprofit stays afloat because of the festival, along with membership dues and donations. Seeing people come out and enjoy themselves was the most rewarding aspect for her. "We're all about preserving the history of Medford and bringing it to the people so they can enjoy it," Doyle said. Most of the society's proceeds go to maintaining the restored, old grist mill. There was a wide variety of apple products available, including apple ice cream from Leo's Yum Yum in Medford. Steven Bargfrede, of Medford, has been bringing his family to the festival for years. He said he and his family wanted to eat doughnuts, drink cider and shop the arts and crafts. Bargfrede said the event brings out the community to enjoy crisp fall weather. He said his kids remember as far back as seven years ago when they first came to the festival. "Maybe down the line they'll pass it on to their kids," Bargfrede said. "It's something that people look forward to every year." Julie Waszkiewicz, a volunteer with the society, manned a tent where she sold apple cider, apple butter, apples, soft pretzels and coffee. She's been doing it for at least 10 years. Waszkiewicz said she hoped festival goers had a good time and learned a little bit about the history of Kirby's Mill. Pauletta Berger's tent was for her business, Handwovens by Pauletta, from Vineland. Now in her third year with the festival, she manned a loom while making a scarf. "I love the atmosphere, I love the different crafts that are here, I love the smell of the food," Berger said. She said demonstrating her craft was most gratifying. "And having the people that come and express such an interest in it," Berger said. "They want to learn they want to show their children what it's all about." She said this year's business was much better than last year's, when it rained. "The coolness, the breeze," Berger said. "It's wonderful." She said she also enjoys showing people what can be done manually. "We're so involved with technology that we kind of forget that there's a whole different genre of experiences out there," Berger said.
William S. Kirby bought the mill complex in 1877 and again changes were made. In the next few years the roof was lifted adding a fourth floor. Another major change was the removal of the water wheel to be replaced by several more efficient water turbines.
By World War I more modern machinery had replaced the millstones and the mill stopped producing flour in the 1920's and concentrated more on livestock feed. The sawmill finally shut down because of the lack of local timber. The blacksmith and wheelwright shop closed down with the coming' of the automobile. The gristmill stayed in operation under water power until 1961 when, because of low water and mechanical problems, it was converted. to electricity. It was still in partial operation in 1969 when the Medford Historical Society purchased it from the Kirby Brothers. This mill was the last operating commercial mill in New Jersey.
The mill was declared a State Historical Site in July of 1971, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in September of 1972. It is the hope of the Medford Historical Society to restore the complex to working order so that our generation and future generations can wander back into the past and see part of early Americana.
To date, restoration efforts have included the replacement of a working Waterwheel, along with the necessary foundation, shafts and gearing etc. to once again operate a pair of millstones. The Mill Complex has an extensive collection of antiques and an interesting museum that includes a Country Store, a Milliner's Shop, Print Shop and a Carpenter Shop. There is also a working Blacksmith Shop and Sawmill.
In addition to the mentioned buildings the Society restored and maintains the Cross Keys School House. This is the last standing one room school house in Medford.
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