Just a little over a year ago, courtesy of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, a corn crib in Middleburgh went on a wild mile-and-a-half ride along the Schoharie Creek, drifting away from Betty Koska’s farm.
Slightly beaten up during the journey, the 1820s era corn crib was nearly ready to meet its demise by a torch, when David Petri of Hartwick, a friend of Koska, helping her clean up and rebuild on her property, intervened.
Koska is the owner of the former Peter Swart farm in Middleburgh. Swart was the brother of Lawrence Swart, builder of the present Swart-Wilcox House in Oneonta’s Sixth Ward. Petri contacted Helen Rees, historian at the Swart-Wilcox House, and a process soon began to disassemble the old corn crib and bring it to Otsego County, to be repaired from the flood damage and then be rebuilt in Oneonta.
At one time, old Oneonta photos and maps showed that the Swart-Wilcox House had a corn crib of similar construction on the grounds. The Swart-Wilcox House is the earliest house still standing in Oneonta and was a working farm, the last in the city limits, until the 1960s, according to Rees.
A year later, after a vigorous fund raising effort and the restoration services of Jon Edgington of Mount Vision, the corn crib has been completed on the Swart-Wilcox grounds and a celebration called Corn Fest is set for this Sunday, from 1 to 3 p.m.
The corn crib was re-assembled between Aug. 28 and Sept. 7, or less than two weeks, by Edgington and a few helpers.
As Rees puts it, “corny good times” will be featured at Sunday’s Corn Fest. Corn food, corn games, crafts and a woodworking demonstration by Jon Edgington will be part of the afternoon’s festivities. Refreshments and admission are free, and there will be tours of the house and corn crib, although donations to the Swart-Wilcox House will be welcomed.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be featured at 2 p.m., with brief addresses by Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller and Mark Simonson, Oneonta city historian, and a contingent of people who made this corn crib possible at the Swart-Wilcox House.
“It has been the people of Oneonta who have come through with their generous support to make this possible,” Rees said. “It will be a wonderful addition to our school program and in the interpretation of the Swart-Wilcox homestead.”