the second Sunday in July
Barn Day is dedicated to barns, the structures used by farmers to house animals, equipment, grain, and hay. The word is derived from an Old English word, bere, meaning barley, and aem, meaning storage place. There are various types of barns, and the ways they have been made has changed over the years. Three aisled Medieval barns greatly influenced many modern barns, and as equipment and technology has improved, barns have been made larger. In the first half of the twentieth century, many barns were built with gambrel and hipped roofs, which allow more space to house hay. These barns are many times associated with modern dairy farms. Barns are mostly painted red, and this could be because the ferric oxide used in red paint was cheap and available, and because ferric oxide possibly may help protect the barn. Barns historically have been the center of a farm, many times being built even before the house. Barns are a symbol of tradition, and they bring communities together. The most obvious example of this is barn raising, which was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. As building your own barn was a daunting task, barn raisings brought community members together to help each other. Families were willing to help build another barn, as they knew that the community would in turn help them build theirs.
How to Observe
Celebrate Barn Day by driving out into the country to see as many barns as you can. Really get out there and barnstorm—literally. Take note of the different types of barns you can find. Take photographs! Talk to a farmer about their barn and what it means to them. They are quite uncommon today, but if you can participate in a barn raising or a barn dance, you would be celebrating the day in the best possible way. Throughout the day be sure to use phrases such as “Where were you born? A barn?” and “You couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn!” When you are ribbing your friends in this way, make sure your “barn door” isn’t open, or they will have the last laugh!