An 1850’s Farm to Table Event

The year 1850 rang true the evening of May 18th inside the walls of the Victorian Hall in Busti, New York.

Carafes filled with cold beverages, primitive glassware, mismatched china settings, fresh linens, quaint saucers filled with Apple Butter and neatly placed menus adorned each table. Each item added a sense of charm to the elegant Victorian décor.

Far right: Joni Blackman

After many joyful exchanges between old friends and pleasurable introductions between strangers, Joni Blackman, Fenton History Center Director, greeted all in attendance and announced the evening’s agenda.

Before closing, she encouraged everyone to view advertisements that had appeared in the Jamestown Journal in the 1800’s that were on display before the end of the evening. The unique clippings were contributed by Robert Schultz, Busti Historical Society President, who took a few minutes before dinner was served to speak about the items he had selected.   

A blessing was given by John Siggins II, Town of Busti Historian, at the start of the much-anticipated family style meal. A Tossed Salad with a Vinaigrette Dressing and Potato Corn Chowder were the first two selections to be served. Platters filled with Beef Roulades in Gravy, Stuffed Roast Turkey, Roasted Root Vegetables and a Seasonal Vegetable (Asparagus) circulated each table directly after.

From left: Joni Blackman, Sue Tillotson, and Steve Johnson

All in attendance were offered hot coffee and tea; carafes filled with ice water and chilled fresh-pressed cider were replenished several times at each table. Baskets filled with freshly baked, stone-ground wheat rolls and cornbread were in continuous supply and Apple Bread Pudding with a Maple Liqueur Glaze, the featured dessert, was served at the meals end.

While guests enjoyed each course, there were discussions pertaining to the unique details of the attire worn by many in attendance, facts listed on pre-printed note cards about life in the Victorian era and recognizable local names from the 19th century, the meal itself, and what life may have been like in the 1800’s in this region.

After the Apple Bread Pudding with a Maple Liqueur Glaze, Robert Cross of 3 C’s Catering gave an explanation of the evening’s menu, how each item tied into the 19th century, and the method in which each dish was prepared.

From left: Sue Tillotson playing her fiddle and Jim Cunningham playing his guitar

One of the questions raised during his presentation regarded the root vegetables that had been served. Robert Cross quickly identified the ingredients as: carrot, onion, potato, and rutabaga. He also commented how essential root cellars were to sustain homesteads in the north-east during the long winter months during the 19th century.

Before the evening’s focus shifted to the dance floor, Steve Johnson of the Busti Historical Society and Joni Blackman presented Sue Tillotson with a piece of jewelry and a framed award that recognized Sue Tillotson’s distinct authenticity in teaching Celtic and Scottish violin and fiddle techniques to her students.

From left: Norman Carlson and Kelly Morris

During her performance with Jim Cunningham, Fenton History Center Collections Manager Norman Carlson led five couples in the Virginia Reel, a popular dance of the time-period.

After the fast-paced dance ended, Norman Carlson also demonstrated clogging, and then demonstrated the Waltz with Kelly Morris.

In addition to rave reviews over the evening’s menu and the many comments made in regard to how appropriate the music selections had been, it was noted on several occasions how interesting the 19th century advertisements and the pre-printed note cards that were present at each table had been.

The “Taste the Difference: An 1850’s Farm to Table Event” was presented in equal collaboration by the Busti Historical Society and the Fenton History Center.

Both parties could not have been more pleased with the evening’s success and would like to thank all who contributed.

This truly was an incredible and authentic “1850’s” experience.

Front row: Judy Schultz, Judy Johnson, Cindy Rodgers, and Kelly Morris. Back row: Robert Schultz, Steve Johnson, Joni Blackman, and Norman Carlson

Visit:, call: (716) 664-6256, or email:  to learn more about the Fenton History Center’s educational offerings, events, research center and tours.

The gift shop, museum and research center are open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.  Find the Fenton History Center on Instagram, and Twitter!

To learn more about the Busti Historical Society’s Museum, Mill, its history, meetings, and events visit: or email: to schedule a visit or a demonstration.