In This Place: August 20, 2014

Who’s the Fairest of Them All? Margaretville, Once Upon a Time . . .

by Trish Adams

This week I’ll keep commentary to a minimum, in order to share as much possible of the Margaret­ville Fair as she existed in her heyday, 100 or so years ago. Horse racing may have long since yielded to the demolition derby, but the News archives will always bear testament that Margaretville sure knew how to put on a fair, back in the day. Note how the word “huckster” simply meant a seller of goods, and had not yet acquired the pejorative ring it has today.
From the July 26, 1912 front page.From the July 26, 1912 front page.

August 21, 1902 — The Margaretville Fair
Fun for Everybody, Big and Little.
In no part of the State where an agricultural society exists has there been more careful preparation for holding the annual exhibit on the part of the officers than has been shown by the effort put forth by the men at the head of the various departments of the Catskill Mountain Agricultural Society, and that a fine exhibit greets the throng that visits the grounds each day goes without saying.
Since its organization thirteen years ago the society has been careful to select men with push and energy, who have succeeded in bringing this fair into prominence, and now ranks among the best known agricultural and horticultural organizations in this section.
The exhibits all are up to the highest notch. Passing the man at the gate the first interesting point is the poultry exhibit and is a Mecca for lovers of this branch of the feathered family. There is the large Plymouth Rock and the small bantam, the sissing goose and the gobbling turkey, quacking ducks—thoroughbreds and “grades”—shown by some of the noted fanciers of Delaware and other counties.
Going from the poultry department one passes the stand owned by the genial Hubbell Brothers, where, if one is so inclined, refreshments may be had, and entering the building set apart for fruit and vegetables a surprise is in store.
The season is early, but the display of potatoes and in fact vegetables of all kinds is substantial evidence that, barring the thousand and one things that may happen, we wont have to go hungry for anything grown in Mother Earth during the long cold months to come, and is but another reminder that many who till the soil not only take pride in their vocation but an interest in our fair as well.
The culinery department is also on the lower floor of this building, and a lot of good things to eat are shown by many ladies who pride themselves on the quality ot their pies and cookies.
Up stairs is one sea of fancy articles, both useful and ornament­al, made by nimble fingers of old and young, and it would take several issues of The News to give a proper description of each article. In no year has the display been so grand and complete, and it should not be missed by any one in attendance, especially the ladies.
The art department has, by no means been slighted, and numerous fine pictures grace the walls to delight the eye of those artistically inclined and admirers of the beautiful.
The exhibit by schools is one to make those who have had charge of this branch feel justly proud, and the showing made by some of the rural institutions of learning would be a credit to many schools of more pretentious proportions.
One of the objects of the fair has been closer and more particular breeding of stock and the cattle on exhibition proves that a little competition among breeders is a stimulant, and today much finer and better cows, horses, sheep and swine can be found on the farms in this vicinity than before the organization of the Catskill Mountain Agricultural Society, a fact to which the promoters point with pride.
The musical exhibit by James Munn, the piano man, is all that could be desired. Mr. Munn has one of the “Munn” pianos in his booth, which was manufactured entirely in Delaware County and the first to be made within the county limits, and was put up at his factory in Walton. He needs no introduction to the people of this section, and the fact that he has put this instrument upon the market is sufficient guarantee that it is of superior tone and quality. Several of these pianos now occupy places in Margaret­ville homes and are highly recommended by those using them.
In the line of machinery the exhibit is by far greater than has been in years and all mechanically inclined may witness the various machines in operation, which is an entertaining feature.
There are the usual number of stands where refreshing draughts may be procured, among which will be found that of Pakatakan Hose Company. Don’t forgot the boys when making the rounds.
The restaurant under the grand stand is in charge of Redmond Brothers and the hungry can get an elaborate meal at a nominal figure.
Of course, hucksters, the photograph man, the man with rings and whips, a shooting gallery where rifle or pistol shots may test their skill, provide amusement for young and old but the most pleasing feature of the whole show is the merry-go-round, which is dear to the heart of every little one and some who are old and gray.
Between the calls of the whip man and the talk of Marshall Dean it is hard to tell whether one wants a fine-tooth comb or a dish of delicious ice cream. But it all goes to make up the fair.
Everything is just as advertis­ed. The acrobats are the limber­est lot ever on the fair ground and their acts are many and daring.
The dogs, monkeys and cats are well trained, going through their part of the program in a manner which pleases all.
The base ball games between the well-known Fleischmanns and Binghamton teams are a strong attraction. The game between Margaretville and Bovina Centre teams on Friday afternoon, although not arranged for in time to appear on the printed program, will nevertheless be a hotly contested and exciting one.
The balloon ascension and parachute drop each afternoon by Harry L. Williams, the old favorite, is a fitting close to a day of instruction and sport.
The clever James Munn advertised his pianos in the August 7, 1902 edition, just a week or so before he knew he’d be in town dem­onstrating his instruments to huge fair crowds. Good timing! But I’ve never heard the word “warerooms,” even in Victorian fiction.The clever James Munn advertised his pianos in the August 7, 1902 edition, just a week or so before he knew he’d be in town dem­onstrating his instruments to huge fair crowds. Good timing! But I’ve never heard the word “warerooms,” even in Victorian fiction.

The fair attracted so many people that logistics were constantly fine-tuned: note this year how the ticket sales were removed from the entrance gates to avoid — they hoped! — long lines.

August 14, 1914 — Racing Horses by the Score for Next Week’s Fair
Officers of the Margaretville Fair Society went to the Ellenville fair and the Schenevus fair Wednesday of this week to get in touch with the horsemen at these two fairs. The majority of the racing men were looking forward to visit the local fair next week and Supt W. T. Austin would not be surprised if there were 30 horses entered for the big races next week. There is no question but that horse racing will be of the most exciting kind here next week. The races will all be conducted under the rules of the National trotting Association. William W. White, a licensed starter has been secur­ed from the National Trotting Association and will give the races the advantage of a professional horse racing man.
DeVolo, the bicycle man, who takes the dip of death each day at the fair grounds arrived in town on Tuesday and will begin the erection of his elevated track Saturday morning. His trick is a sensational one. He starts at a great elevation and rides down an incline to an open space where he jumps a 32 ft. gap and turning over in the air rights himself and continues his trip to the ground. He has been the main attraction at many leading out-of-door festivals all over the eastern part of the United States for 10 years.
The veterans who are to meet here next Wednesday will be the most enthusiastic gathering of old soldiers who have been together in Delaware county in many years. Every day brings letters from more who are coming to the 144th regt. reunion at the Margaretville Fair.
The old band stand has been taken down and a more modern one erected. This will be occupied every day by the Downs­ville band than whom there are no better musicians in the county.
The State Board of Health will have an exhibition in the same building [with] a trained nurse who is present to answer questions.
Another change is in the ticket office. This has been moved about 7 rods up the drive toward the bridge and all tickets must be purchased here. No money will be taken at the gate and those who approach the gate without tickets will be compelled to go back and secure them. This rule will be strictly enforced and will save much confusion that has existed at the gate in previous years.
A force of men has been busy during the week putting the finishing touches to the track and it is in excellent condition. Yesterday afternoon there was a “bee” at the fair grounds and a hundred little things were done to add to the attractiveness and usefulness of the grounds.

The 144th regt. veterans were from the Civil War, which ended 50 years earlier. It is astonishing that so many were still alive, until you recall that boys enlisted very young, and that when first mustered in 1862, it was nearly 1,000 strong already.

August 21, 1914 — Annual Exhibition is Closing Today
Three Fakirs Closed Up Thursday Afternoon
Horse Trot Draws the Best Crowd in Years.
The fair has been a success. There has been no accident or untoward event to mar the exhibit and a continuance of good weather today will also see large crowds and the best racing of the entire week.
Wednesday was given over to the reunion of the 144th regiment. By Wednesday noon 111 were here. They met at the Firemen’s Hall at 11 o’clock and registered. The soldiers were entertained at dinner [at] the Meth­odist church where the ladies of the church served an excellent meal. Led by the Downsville band the veterans then marched in file of twos to the fair grounds where Supt. L. R. Long delivered an address of welcome. His speech was a master one and his patriotic fervor brought tears to the eyes of many of the old soldiers whom he gave welcome in behalf of the fair society. A list of the veterans is given below. [Scroll down for a picture of the list!]
DoVolo, who did the bicycle trick drew a crowd for every performance and his act was pleasing to all. Flexon the balloonist made a triple parachute drop each day and landed within a few rods of the place from whence he started. This feature could not have been better.
The return of racing seemed to be responsible for the big crowd. The racing was exciting and the horsemen all said that the track here is an excellent one.
A. Albers of this village also had an exhibit there that was well worth seeing. It was an incubator in the act of hatching chickens. Mr. Albers had timed the hatching so that it came the sec­ond day of the fair and hundreds watched this interesting process.
Today the racing will be even better than the two days proceeding as it will include the free for all. The balloon mid bicycle act will also take place. There will be an interesting ball game this afternoon and one of the players will be Finley Shepherd of Roxbury.
A “spot the spot” man and two other fakirs, who were not operating their games fairly were removed from the grounds Thursday afternoon.

Here is the list of 144th regiment sol­diers who came to participate in the 1914 fair, as it appeared on the front page of the August 21, 1914 edition.Here is the list of 144th regiment sol­diers who came to participate in the 1914 fair, as it appeared on the front page of the August 21, 1914 edition.