Grand Ma's Barnyard

A Major Feature of the Putnam County Agriculture & Industrial Fair

Meet the Real Grand Ma

Grand Ma’s Barnyard was inspired by the real barnyard of Maude Chaffin Allen. She and my grandfather, Alva Allen (Pap), lived north of Cookeville off the Hilham Road. She was born in 1899 and lived all her life on the farm that is still in the Allen Family.

They milked 6 or 7 Jersey cows twice a day. They raised their own beef, pork, chickens, and most everything else they ate. They had a big garden every year and Ma canned literally hundreds of jars of food to feed her family and share with others.

During the Depression when things were scarce, they dug up the dirt in the smokehouse where the hams hanged to be cured and boiled it to get the salt out of it to use in cooking. Pap raided wild bees in trees to get honey to use in place of sugar which was also scarce.

Pap had a blacksmith’s shop near the barn and there was always a big farm wagon loaded with hay, corn or some farm crop standing in the barn lot just like in the barnyard at the fair.

They used horses and mules to plow the fields, mow and haul hay and corn, and they never owned a tractor, hay baler or other modern farm equipment. They mowed hay with a pair of horses and a horse drawn mower.

My brothers and sister spent long summer days in that barnyard learning about animals and helping our grandparents with the chores. There were always puppies and kittens, a baby colt, calf, and baby pigs around the barnyard.

Grand Ma’s Barnyard did exist and today it is alive in the memories of her grandchildren.

John Allen, President, Putnam County Fair

It all began with an old exhibit building on the fairgrounds…the creativity of two fair board members … the memory of fair board member and the labor of many volunteers to bring it all to life. The traditional petting zoo and farmer for the day are integrated into “Grand Ma’s Barnyard…”.


The initiative has been so successful it is being expanded in 2021 and doubled in size.

Before

Welcome to
Grand Ma’s Barnyard

Dry Levee Salvage has erected a log cabin to use for live demonstrations and display of quilts, an old ironing board, and utensils used during the 40s./50s.

An antique tractor, corn picker and grist mill greet guests as they came into the barnyard. All equipment loaned to us by local collectors and they came and demonstrated it all during the fair.

An antique tractor, corn picker and grist mill greet guests as they came into the barnyard. All equipment loaned to us by local collectors and they came and demonstrated it all during the fair.

There’s a hand water pump and wooden trough just like the one used on Grandma’s farm and it pumped water for doing the laundry in a wash tub and on a scrub board.

Literally hundreds of young people pumped water.

There are new arrivals every year before and during the fair and they are always the center of attention with our children.

A local Farrier demonstrates shoeing a horse right in the barnyard just like Grandpa did on the farm.

Rendering lard is a very popular demonstration with all our guests especially when it came time to sample the cracklings that result from the rendering. At our next fair we will be making crackling corn bread for our guests.

Sewing and quilting demonstrations every day and evening in the log cabin. Here Peggy Finger, a quilter extraordinaire, demonstrates her quilting techniques that have won her many awards in the local quilt festival.

A variety of quilters rock in the rocking chairs in the log cabin and quilt during the ten days of the fair. Some quilt in their laps, some with quilt frames set up and others use a hoop to quilt – all ways our ancestors did it.

Volunteer and fair Dad, David Clouse demonstrates cast iron cooking each day and night of the fair – serving up samples of corn fritters, cabbage, apples, and a whole array of southern foods. This was by far one of the favorite stops in the barnyard.

Inside the barn there is a real blacksmith with a working forge demonstrating all ten days and nights.

Spinning and Weaving Artist Susan Richardson sets up a wonderful display in the log cabin to teach about fabrics, wool carding, spinning and weaving on weekend dates.

Broom making is also very popular with our fair guests – brooms made on site are available for purchase.

Junior Fair Board members created benches out of scrap and leftover lumber, painted them and added pictures of farm animals.

They created a photography area at the back of the hay wagon and provide old clothing from the era for picture taking.

Dozens of handwashing stations just for children are available. Five-gallon buckets painted like farm animals and turned upside down with hand sanitizer sitting on top at a child’s level encourage children to use it often. These were very popular and could be found around the fairground wherever animals were available – the chicken house, the big barn, and at farm animal of the day.

Before

Welcome to Grand Ma’s Barnyard

Dry Levee Salvage has erected a log cabin to use for live demonstrations and display of quilts, an old ironing board, and utensils used during the 40s./50s.

An antique tractor, corn picker and grist mill greet guests as they came into the barnyard. All equipment loaned to us by local collectors and they came and demonstrated it all during the fair.

There’s a hand water pump and wooden trough just like the one used on Grandma’s farm and it pumped water for doing the laundry in a wash tub and on a scrub board.

Literally hundreds of young people pumped water.

There are new arrivals every year before and during the fair and they are always the center of attention with our children.

A local Farrier demonstrates shoeing a horse right in the barnyard just like Grandpa did on the farm.

Rendering lard is a very popular demonstration with all our guests especially when it came time to sample the cracklings that result from the rendering. At our next fair we will be making crackling corn bread for our guests.

Sewing and quilting demonstrations every day and evening in the log cabin. Here Peggy Finger, a quilter extraordinaire, demonstrates her quilting techniques that have won her many awards in the local quilt festival.

A variety of quilters rock in the rocking chairs in the log cabin and quilt during the ten days of the fair. Some quilt in their laps, some with quilt frames set up and others use a hoop to quilt – all ways our ancestors did it.

Volunteer and fair Dad, David Clouse demonstrates cast iron cooking each day and night of the fair – serving up samples of corn fritters, cabbage, apples, and a whole array of southern foods. This was by far one of the favorite stops in the barnyard.

Inside the barn there is a real blacksmith with a working forge demonstrating all ten days and nights.

Spinning and Weaving Artist Susan Richardson sets up a wonderful display in the log cabin to teach about fabrics, wool carding, spinning and weaving on weekend dates.

Broom making is also very popular with our fair guests – brooms made on site are available for purchase.

Junior Fair Board members created benches out of scrap and leftover lumber, painted them and added pictures of farm animals.

They created a photography area at the back of the hay wagon and provide old clothing from the era for picture taking.

Dozens of handwashing stations just for children are available. Five-gallon buckets painted like farm animals and turned upside down with hand sanitizer sitting on top at a child’s level encourage children to use it often. These were very popular and could be found around the fairground wherever animals were available – the chicken house, the big barn, and at farm animal of the day.

Don’t Miss Grand Ma’s Barnyard!!!!

“Grand Ma’s Barnyard…” is a partnership between the Putnam County Fair, the Schools of Agriculture and Human Ecology at Tennessee Technological University, UT Putnam County Extension Service, Department of Plant Sciences at UT Institute of Agriculture, Putnam County Farm Bureau and the Putnam County Master Gardeners. All these organizations contributed to the success of this effort and are featured as a part of this exhibit all over the fairground.