In This Place: August 13, 2014

It’s Fair Time!

Looking back at the history of the Delaware County Fair decades ago, I was surprised to learn that what seems to us now as an ironclad tradition almost went under, more than once! It was also fun to read the attractions, as decades went by, to see what became antiquated and what never grew old — namely rides and livestock! Eventually horse races were replaced by “motorized” amusements such as demolition derbies, but the horses continued to hold their own well into the forties.

Feb. 14, 1913 — End of County Fair
A meeting is called for next Wednesday to take definite action in regard to either doing away with the county Fair property and discontinuing exhibitions here, or determining upon some course to resuscitate the society. It's about time a spirit of enterprise manifested towards the local fair. Next Wednesday will decide the fate of the fair. Local business men will have to come to the rescue or the institution will be sacrificed to those who have claims against the society's real estate. This isn't saying the farmers don't know where their interests lie.
Someone has got to get behind the fair or its fate is sealed.—Delhi Gazette.

Sept. 29, 1916 — COUNTY FAIRS HIT.
Distinct Falling Off of Interest Noted in Many Sections.
Side attractions other than agricultural matters has dealt county fairs a severe blow and unless the old time type of fair is revived it is regarded as a probable fact that in many of the counties the yearly expositions, originally held to show stock, produce and agricultural progress, will be discontinued in the near future. There are a few counties in the state where the old time county fairs are as popular as ever, but in the majority of cases there has been a distinct falling off of interest. Freak attractions have crept in and matters dear to the heart of the tiller of the soil have been crowded out. Instead of long lines of cattle, sheep, swine, horses and poultry entered for prizes, tumblers, acrobats, jugglers and other performers have been substituted much to the detriment of the future of county fairs, its pointed out. The one-time prevalence of games of chance and gambling on fair grounds has been eliminated by law, so that the three shell man no longer reaps a harvest, but the other lurid side attractions, as it were, lurid at least to rural residents have continued and the keen interest in stock and produce has not been catered to. The state agricultural authorities are anxious that more attention be paid to agricultural matters at county, fairs and officials of county agricultural societies are likely to hear from them in this respect. Fairs for the promotion of interest in agricultural matters are desired, but the semi-circus exhibitions which have been held in many localities appear to be in a bad grace with the men who have at heart the development of agriculture. The present season can hardly be taken as a basis of comparison for county fair popularity. The infantile paralysis epidemic prevented many from attending exhibitions of this character and as the result the gate receipts fell off alarmingly. Yet the waning of interest it appears goes back for several years. There are no more prize hogs to attract envious and ambitious breeders. The Every other male student In Syracuse University is working his way through college in whole or in part, which shows that there are yet some boys that do not depend on money from home. The Directors of the Prattsville Fair Association are considering the advisability of holding a "field day," with trotting and running races, ball game, etc., about the middle of next month.
The broad statement is made that these attractions, as a matter of fact, have been deemed of less importance than an aeroplane flight or a drop from a parachute, two features of entertainment which are distinctly foreign to Agriculture. County fairs are aided financially by the state and the money given is donated for the betterment of agricultural conditions. It may be that this money will be withheld if there is not a decided tendency on the part of officials to pay more attention to agriculture than amusement. While nothing definite has been done in this respect, it is understood that the near future will bring to light a mandate in fuvor of county fairs for agricultural products.—Albany Dispatch.

August 23, 1929 — WALTON FAIR NEXT WEEK
Everything in Readiness for forty third Annual Exhibition
Next Tuesday, August 27, the Walton Fair will open its gates for the forty-third annual exhibition promoted by that society. Efforts on the part of the management to place the Fair on a county basis are bearing fruit. Plans for the Fair have all been along county lines and the communities of Delaware county have been quick to voice their desire to co-operate. There will be hundreds of exhibits of products latent to Delaware county, with premiums totaling ,000. A special building will house the 4-H club work of the county and on Friday there will be a parade of club members and exhibits indicative of their industry. Free attractions of an unsurpassed nature will grace the vantage point of the grounds, before the grand stand. Here the Great Free Circus, featuring the Riding St. Leons, trained animal acts, comedian acts and the rest of circus curriculum, will be found. In the central portion of the grounds will be found the billowy white canvass tents that house the wonders, revelations, thrills and amusements of the 1929 Walton Fair mid-way—greater than any of its predecessors. The merry-go-round, ferris wheel, whip, merry mix-up and numerous other riding devises will be found in the same section of the grounds. Daily horse races will feature the afternoon programs. Thousands of dollars have been offered in purses for the various trots and paces, to induce the entry of extra line horses and unexcelled racing is assured. The Troop C Rough Riders will perform daily on the race track before the grand stand, exhibiting thrilling horsemanship in stunts that have never been seen before in Delaware county. This is Delaware county's last fair and in it have been woven the virtues of all the other fairs of the county. Make it complete with your presence.

From the September 17, 1943 edition.From the September 17, 1943 edition.

Do you know what a “Townsend Club” was? Here’s the scoop from the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Responding to the economic impact of the Great Depression, five million old people in the early 1930s joined nationwide Towns­end clubs, promoted by Francis E. Townsend to support his program demanding a $200 monthly pension for everyone over the age of 60. In 1934 Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt set up a committee on economic security to consider the matter; after studying its recommendations, Congress in 1935 enacted the Social Security Act, providing old-age benefits to be financed by a payroll tax on employers and employees.”

Friday, August 21, 1936 — DR. TOWNSEND AT WALTON FAIR
Good Racing and Unusual Attractions Each Day.
Expect Walton's Biggest Day
The Delaware County Fair will be held in Walton next week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday will he given over to receiving premium entries and the fair will he in full swing on Wednesday. This year's fair is under new management and a program of entertainment has been arranged which will please both old and young. Fifteen acts of free attractions have been booked, there will be harness races and running races, a horse show, night fairs with a grand display of fireworks and the usual fanfare and ballyhoo of a large midway.
Dr. Francis E. Townsend, ­found­er of the Townsend plan will be at the fair on Friday and make an ad- dress and Townsend clubs from all over the state will send delegations to Walton to welcome him. He will be accompanied by Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith, who was the right hand man of the late Senator Huey P. Long. This year's fair will be different, from those of the past few years as there was a complete reorganization of management this spring and money has been spent lavishly to provide the best in entertainment for those who attend. F. Eugene Sykes, whose attractions at the World's Fair in San Diego last year, provoked universal commendation, has been booked to present fifteen acts of free attractions at Walton. Included in the array of talent which Mr. Sykes will bring with him are such stellar attractions as Sig Franz and Company, cyclists and acrobats; Bible's Animal Circus featuring educated ponies, monkies, dogs and birds; Captain Andrews and his troupe of performing bears; the Clayton Troupe, aerialists and wire walkers in death defying feats; Dippy Deers and partner, clowns and comedy; favor and Wilson, the juggling wonders; and the Deperon Duo, acrobatics. In addition to appearing twice daily on the stage at the fair they will also put on the full program of attractions at the night fairs on Wednesday and Thursday nights. At the night fairs there will also be the Audino fireworks featuring such pieces as William Tell, Old Glory, World War Night Attack, the Statute of Liberty and many other pieces, with aerial bombs galore. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there will be trotting races and E. J. Kellam of Hancock, who has charge of booking horses for the races, states that some of the finest trotters on the fair circuits will be brought to Walton to compete for the purses. One of the horses which has been entered broke the track record at the Boonville fair two weeks ago in three successive heats.

August 16, 1940 — WALTON FAIR COMES NEXT WEEK
Outstanding: Exhibition This Year In Agriculture, Horse Racing, Cattle and Entertainment
The great Delaware county fair and horse show will start next Tuesday night, Aug. 20, on the fairgrounds at Walton. Then for three days and four nights it will be a mecca for those who are in search of amusement and excitement. Never in the fifty years of existence has there been such a diversified program. A few of the highlights will be seven stellar platform acts both day and night, a horse show with the best farm and show horses of this section of the state, seven harness races with a number of running races interspersed, feature is a race between Commissioner of Agriculture Holton V. Noyes and Jerome J. Farrell in sulkies behind two bangtails. On Friday afternoon Lucky Teter and his Hell Drivers will entertain with a program of thrills and in the evening there will be a boxing and wrestling exhibition, featuring local semi-professional luminaries and also some of the best professionals. In addition to the amusements offered to the fair visitors there will be a large display of the best cattle, poultry, produce and articles of homecraft. The county 4-H boys and girls will as usual have their large exhibit in the educational building and their cattle in a tent nearby. Five of the finest acts obtainable will be shown for the entertainment of the crowd. Music throughout the fair will be furnished by Joe Basile and his Madison Square Garden band. Joe Basile and his band need no introduction to Delaware county fair goers as they have furnished music here for the past three years. The days of the fair will be full of entertainment The day fairs start Wednesday morning at 9:30 with a horseshoe pitching contest to determine the county championship. Wednesday will be 4-H day and children's day. All school children will be admitted to the grounds free of charge. At noon there will be a monster 4-H parade. On Thursday, the traditional big day of the fair, there will be a full program of attractions, plus the horse show, finals of the horse-pulling contest, a log chopping contest and other features. In addition to the harness races there will be several running races on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday afternoon will be given over to Lucky Teter and his Hell Drivers.