“Elderly fair-goers recall past events” Part 1
From The Evening Sun, published August 8, 1982. Written by Tom Moczydlowski
Read by Marisa Modugno
As will surely be the case with the 135th Chenango County Fair, memories of the week-long hoopla remain after the crowds and festive attractions come and go each year. Those spectators and participants who attended the fair during its early past have kept fond recollections of it, personal likes and dislikes which have managed to last lifetimes.
Fay Pike, 79, well remembers the fairs. “Our family lived on a farm in North Norwich. Every year we went by a horse-drawn carriage down a dirt road to Norwich,” she said. “More than anything else I was interested in seeing a peacock on the grounds of Dr. Jeffrey’s home during our ride to the fair. The house was where Stefanelli’s Restaurant is today on North Norwich Road. I would hope that the peacock would spread its tail feathers for us. It was something I was thrilled about as a young girl.”
At the fairgrounds, Mrs. Pike said the people hitched up their horses in the grove. “That was a grassy area; there were only a few cars back then in the early 1910s. We’d fold out a blanket and have lunch from a picnic basket. You didn’t have the pizza and soft drink stands that there are today.”
Sight For Country Eyes
“Being from the country the fair was a sight to see. For instance, watching the Ferris wheel each year was enjoyable. I seldom took a ride on it. If I can help it, I don’t like to get one foot off the ground. That was as true then as it still is today. I would ride the merry-go-round. That was a big deal to me.”
“When you were a teenager, you would naturally go with your boyfriend. By then there were more cars and he would have one. You would stay the day and for the fireworks show at night. The fair also continued to increase in amusement rides as I was growing up.” In the ‘ 30s and ‘ 40s, Mrs. Pike was a 4-H leader. Along with her husband, she attended and helped organize the cattle and chicken exhibitions. “We were both interested in cattle, since we were dairy farmers.” She and her husband held the post of secretary-treasurer for the County Holstein Club at various intervals.
After 1965, Mrs. Pike was on the executive committee of the county Cooperative Extension home economics division. She would help design their fair booth each year.
Looking back on the changes she has seen in her overall 50 years of fair attendance, Mrs. Pike believes a more commercial trend exists at the fair today than before. “Another thing,” she said, “parents don’t keep track of their kids like they use to. They run all over the place at the fair nowadays.”
Lina Wadsworth, 90, was also involved with the fair in a more than spectator capacity. She helped run the Mt. Upton United Methodist Church food stand at the fair. She enjoyed the floral displays, horse shows, but not the horse races. “The jockeys hit the horses too much to make them go fast in the races. I never did like that,” Mrs. Wadsworth said.