Starvation dinner feeds institute supporters

PAT FRIDGEN
Barbara Heil, Welsh Run, and Abigail Lackey, an eighth-grader at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, entertained at a Conococheague Institute dinner. Their songs from England and Scotland were written in the 1700s.

Waist high snow in February postponed the Mid-winter Starvation Dinner at the Conococheague Institute. The balmy weather on the first day of spring proved to be more friendly for the hosts and guests at the first fundraising event of its type. Some members of both groups dressed in period attire to dine on the foods 18th century families would have access to at the end of a long winter. As the CI personnel declared, "They would be near starving this time of year."

The institute at 12995 Bain Road, in Welsh Run, is the site of five historic buildings, and a research and genealogy library on 20 acres of land. Volunteers from Greencastle, Mercersburg, and the greater area maintain and improve the museum and grounds. The CI, as they like to refer to the institute, is one of a network of sites belonging to the Colonel Washington Frontier Forts Association, dedicated to the era of the French and Indian War.

"Settlers had a rough go of it," explained Cindy Fink, museum educator. "The land was conducive to farming, so we are celebrating the success of the farmers who settled here."

The dinner in a restored log house consisted of foods that could be prepared on a hearth or fireplace. It included homemade applesauce, roasted carrots and cauliflower, roasted onions, pork tenderloin, fruit chutney, potato and parsnips stew, rolls, thimble cookies, lemon and orange pound cake and blackberry tarts. Fink announced that original recipes were used, but a little 21st century magic was added.

Colonial music was performed by music teacher Barbara Heil, Welsh Run, and her viola student Abigail Lackey, 14, Greencastle. Heil alternated between violin and cello. Their songs were customary to the time of President George Washington and his wife Martha.