TIFTON—From old favorites such as a train ride featuring the 1917 Vulcan steam locomotive to new additions such as hand-scooped ice cream, visitors can take in all the sights and sounds of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture when it opens to the public on Sept. 5.
Museum Director Garrett Boone said the Historic Village staff is glad to be back in operation after almost six months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are excited to be back and welcome all our visitors,” Boone said. “The Country Store and Museum Main Hall have been up and running for a few weeks but now we’re opening back up the Historic Village.”
Boone said ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture is an immersive experience into the agrarian and cultural traditions of the 19th century American South. Visitors can take a glimpse into the innovative and storied history of the Wiregrass region of Southern Georgia through hands-on learning experiences and a sweeping landscape of historic sites and artifacts.
The Museum and Historic Village will be open on a Tuesday through Saturday basis from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Country Store, located at 1392 Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton, will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sundays.
“Our Country Store is going to be one of our most popular spots with everything we have added to it,” Boone said. “Besides the hand-scooped ice cream, we now have popcorn and cotton candy as well as all our toys and gift items.
“We have also added some colorful picnic tables and umbrellas just outside the store where our guests can enjoy their treats. And perhaps most exciting to the little ones is the addition of three more large pieces of playground equipment.”
Museum Curator Polly Huff said a unique multimedia event titled “Blood, Bone, & Stone” will be in the spotlight at the Museum’s Opry Shelter and the Museum Gallery on Sept. 19.
“Presented in collaboration with ABAC’s School of Arts and Sciences, the event features Jack McKey, a master craftsman of Naturalistic and Native American Technology,” Huff said. “Guests of the day-long event will participate in the world premiere of McKey’s biographical film, which was created by Dr. Thomas Grant, an associate professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, and a team of ABAC journalism students.”
The Gallery is located adjacent to the Museum’s Main Hall, which features dozens of exhibits describing the history of Georgia’s agricultural commodities, unique cultural pieces, and pays respect to the historic inventors and luminaries from eras past and present.
The familiar whistle of the historic steam locomotive will once again sound throughout Tifton every Saturday this fall. Guests will purchase their train tickets inside the Country Store and then drive to the Museum Main Hall where they will be directed to where they can board the train in the Historic Village.
“For the folks who have ridden the train in the past, this is a change,” Boone said. “Everybody loves the train ride, and they will still get the full experience.”
In the Historic Village, guests can visit the Davis Grist Mill to see grits being made, the blacksmith shop, the print shop, the doctor’s office, the turpentine still, the Langdale Nature Center, the drugstore, the sawmill, the cotton gin, and the Tift House, formerly the home of Tifton founder Henry Harding Tift and his family.
Younger visitors always love the animals at the Traditional and Progressive Farmsteads as well as the desks at the Sand Hill School House where interpreters relate stories of Georgia’s past and engage the youngsters in hands-on activities.
Boone said school children will also return to the Museum for the Destination Ag program, which begins its fifth year this fall.
“Destination Ag provides an interactive, educational experience for children and all guests focused on modern agriculture and natural resources,” Boone said. “Learning stations and exhibits connect guests to where their food, fiber, and shelter come from.”
Destination Ag attracted a record 12,306 students to the Museum in 2019-20. Thanks to the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation, the program is presented at no cost to the visiting students.
Boone said conference and meeting facilities at the Museum will also be open at a reduced capacity to conform to federal and state guidelines. Masks are required for visitors at all indoor areas of the Museum.
Admission to the Museum Tuesday through Friday is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens 55 and up, $4 for 5 to 16-year-olds, and free for all children under four years of age. On Saturdays, admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, $5 for 5 to 16-year-olds, and free for all children under four.
For more information, interested persons can visit the Museum’s web site at https://gma.abac.edu/.