DRACUT — The year 1908 was destined for new beginnings. Kicking off with the first-ever ball drop on New Year’s Eve, it has become an annual tradition.
Driving the bend of New Boston Road, you can still see the remnants of the new beginning that the Shaw family created for themselves in 1908, a place that also now holds the title of centurlong tradition.
“100 Years of Freshness,” boasts the wooden sign along the road 100 yards in front of the unmistakable silo that reads “Shaw Farm.”
“It’s very validating to be here today. I have heard about this place all of my life, and it brings forward a point of celebration that is really wonderful for our family,” said Lorna Zurilgen of Fresno, Calif. Zurilgen’s grandfather, Mark Loran Shaw, was the founder of the family-run farm that has been passed from generation to generation. Her cousin, Warren Shaw Jr., is the farm’s current operator.
Zurilgen had a chocolate shake for lunch at the family’s restaurant on June 27, just a day before the two-day100th anniversary celebration held for family, friends and customers on the Shaw Farm grounds.
“They all asked if that was all I was going to have, and I said ‘I’m going to have what they are famous for,'” Zurilgen said.
In the eyes of Sue Manning, Shaw Farm is famous for so much more.
“I love the people at this farm,” said Manning, a Dracut resident, as her 4-year-old daughter Paulina gazed at a pair of brown and white twin calves. “Great people, great milk, great egg nog.”
Manning has been a loyal Shaw customer for 33 years.
“Its an old-fashioned kind of store. It’s like coming home every day,” Manning said.
She and her family sported silk-screened yellow T-shirts reading “100th Anniversary Shaw Farm” on the front with a cow donning a cone-shaped party hat. “Lets party till the cows come home,” read the back.
“The products have never changed throughout the years,” Manning added.
Bright yellow sunflowers sprouted from the glass Shaw Farm milk and egg-nog bottles that were used as centerpieces for each of the tables at the breakfast held for longtime customers.
Golden anniversary patrons Rich and Kathy Russell of Dracut were pleased to be part of it.
“It’s meaningful to be part of a community that is so supportive,” Kathy Russell said of the event’s turnout. The Russells frequent the farm’s ice-cream shop to satisfy their orange-sherbet and maple-walnut ice-cream cravings.
Also known for standing in line under the shop’s green wooden roof to pick up some sugar-free strawberry ice cream for himself and his wife is Lowell Mayor Edward “Bud” Caulfield. Caulfield also stopped by the farm on Christmas Day before its noon closing time to pick up some last-minute egg nog.
“We are here to thank Warren (Shaw) not only for the 100 years of the farm, but for what he does for people,” Caulfield said, adding that Shaw has helped to raise money for the Lowell Salvation Army and has donated his ice cream to local teams and organizations. “It’s a testament to Warren and his family to have all of these people here today. Look how many lives they touched.”
“To see the farm still going and to see my nephew making improvements … it will be around for many more years,” said Winthrop Shaw, 86, son of Mark Loran Shaw.
In high school, Winthrop Shaw would spend his afternoons working at the farm pasteurizing, building walls for the silos and clearing land. Last weekend, he took a golf cart up the hill to the cemetery to visit his brother Warren’s grave.
“It means a lot for me to be here today,” Winthrop Shaw said.
“For us to be able to come back here for this event,” said Winthrop’s daughter, Barbara Shaw Harrison of Los Gatos, Calif., “… my dad has a grin from ear to ear.”