Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Rebirth For The Warren County Fair?

Warren County once had one of New York’s most well-attended county fairs. In 1877, the Pottersville Fair (also known as the Glendale Fair) was established by the Faxon family, one of the Town of Chester’s leading families and owners of Chester’s largest employer, a tannery.

The fair was immediately popular, not so much for its agricultural exhibits – there generally weren’t any – but for its gambling opportunities. For thirty years gambling was the main attraction at the fair, and horse racing the main event. In 1897, the fair advertised “a fine program of races consisting of trotting and pacing, running, bicycle, and foot races in which liberal purses and prizes are offered.” 7,000 people attended the Pottersville Fair on a single day in 1913. Now there is a move afoot to revitalize the Warren County Fair (since moved to Schroon River Road in Warrensburg), which has suffered a series of setbacks that have made it one of the poorest attended County Fairs in the state.

In 1906 the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported that “The fair in Pottersville drew good crowds, the feature being the horse races. There were no exhibits made.” “It is the purpose of the management,” the paper suggested “to reorganize the Glendale Union Agricultural Society and devote the exhibition entirely to sports, giving large purses for the racing events.”

The fair lasted into the first half of the 20th century, and help convert Pottersville into a prime location for a variety of amusements, including, as I’ve written before, the first incarnation of Gaslight Village.

Later in the last century, the Warren County Fair was established in Warrensburg. Those who attended still remember that it was a county fair like any other, with carnival rides, a midway, live entertainment, pony pulls, and other activities and events that attracted visitors from all over the county and beyond.

The Fair has changed dramatically over time due to liability insurance restrictions and funding which has hindered the current operator of the fair, Cornell Cooperative Extension, from being able to provide carnival rides, a midway, or even a simple attraction such as a bouncy house, according to Amy Sabattis, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County’s Public Relations Coordinator.

Sabattis said “Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Board of Directors has approved exploring the formation of a Fair Association to take over development, promotion, insurance, and funding of the Warren County Fair.” It’s expected that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County will continue to manage and operate the 4-H youth component of the fair and be able to concentrate on the support and achievements of local youth.

Those who would like to see the Warren County Fair return to the grandeur of yesteryear, should attend a general interest meeting to examine the formation of the a Warren County Fair Association on Monday, November 8th at 7 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Education Center on 377 Schroon River Road in Warrensburg.

If you would like more information about the development of a Fair Association OR would like to pre-register for this meeting, please call John Bowe or Michele Baker at 668-4881 or email at [email protected]

Photo: An old postcard shows actors performing at the Pottersville Fair. A trapeze can be seen at left along with the Fair’s horse track in the rear.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




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