The Troy Lions Club donated this sign and planter. Here Willie and Mrs. Ron Gleckner plant spring flowers as Lion Past President Dick Garrison looks on.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE
TROY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
ALPARON COMMUNITY PARK ASSOCIATION
"Memory vividly recalls the chilliness of the room that winter; however, the energetic perseverance of those who were in constant attendance and full of cheering words, resolved that the club should not fail."
The above was quoted by A. S. Hooker in a pamphlet he wrote long ago and refers to an early meeting of the Troy Farmers’ Club. He should know. Not only was he the first Secretary of the club, he was also a good journalist and publisher of the Troy Gazette.
It all started in 1874 when a group of men decided to further the progress of farming in the area. All farmers were invited to attend the first meeting on Saturday, November 21, 1874, at the Grange Hall in the Pierce building in Troy. The 20 persons present chose B. F. Newbery as chairman and Hooker as Secretary. A committee of James C. McKean, D. D. Fitch and George Ballard was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws.
The first few meetings were taken up with passing such organizational matters and discussing topics of interest to farmers, such as "Buttermaking." At that time, the Troy area was a leading producer of butter in the east. In 1877 there were shipped from Troy and Canton over 2,300,000 pounds of butter for "a sum of not less than $450,000" according to the 1878 Bradford County History.
In 1875 the Club decided to hold a fair or free show for members and all others who chose to join them. A committee was formed of F. P. Cornell, A. H. Thomas, Reuben Stiles, Alonzo Morse, John McKean and M. M. Buckhout to find a proper place to hold it.
The dates were set for October 8-9, 1875; the chosen place was the old homestead of John McKean a mile west of Troy village in Farmer’s Valley. If the sketch in the 1878 county history is accurate, it was an extensive farm, with numerous large outbuildings, neatly fenced-in level enclosures, and a wide driveway circling around the gracious manor house and farm buildings. The site is now occupied by the Earle Terrel family.
All was in readiness well in advance of opening day, for at the September 23 meeting, the minutes carried a list of the expenses of the first Fair as follows:
"Lumber, $13.00; Ribbands and Postal Cards, $4.00; Printing, $7.35; Police, $1.50; Nails, $1.00; for a total of $26.85." The minutes went on to state that some lumber remaining was sold for $7.35, leaving the cash cost of the Fair to the Troy Farmers’ Club at $19.50. There were no receipts. No premiums were awarded at that first Fair, but "certificates of merit were provided to be awarded to meritorious articles."
The great day dawned and Hooker’s history tells the story. "Oct. 8 and 9 the Fair was held, in those chill but bright October days, glowing with sunshine and color. It was a sight long to be remembered, the long string of carriages, wagons and pedestrians pouring into Farmer’s Valley, and thronging the large buildings of the old homestead. The exhibition, in the numbers in attendance and the amount and variety of the articles shown, was an unequaled and surprising success. In some respects it was equal to any held since. People were enthusiastic, and the fame of the Free Fair spread far and wide, and its immediate result was the determination of the Club to hold an annual Fair."
At that time there was no other Fair in the Northern or Southern Tier except the one in Elmira, but it wasn’t long before there were imitators. However, through the years many have ceased to exist and, as far as is known, the Troy Fair is the oldest continuous local Fair in the area. It has been presented every year since 1875 with the exception of four years during World War II when it was considered unpatriotic to use precious supplies of gasoline, sugar and other commodities for entertainment events.
Once the first Fair was over, Club meetings were concerned with the
subject of procuring suitable and more permanent grounds. A public meeting
was held at Long’s Hall in 1876 which resulted in an amendment offered
by I. A. Pierce, "that the Club accept the Joralemon lot on Canton Street
for 10 years free, with Troy Township and Borough paying the Club $800
for the purpose of erecting buildings, fences, etc." It was adopted, 76
|Percy King and a salesman show their wares hoping for the top stove premium.|
A map of the area in the Bradford County Atlas of 1869 shows that Abram D. Joralemon owned a number of lots on either side of Armenia Road, now Fallbrook Road. Other owners were P. Burke, M. L. Winston, and there was still much empty space. The Winston house, later occupied by Dr. Boyer, is now the home of Fallbrook House, and Circuses were once held on the Winston Property. The map does not show a Joralemon outlet right on Canton Street, but it is likely that sometime between 1869 and 1876 he acquired one. Joralemon was a dairyman and butcher. He was probably in business with his brother Joseph who, according to the 1891 County History, "has been in the meat and oyster business in Troy since 1871, with the exception of 1876, when he kept a boarding house in Philadelphia."
Joseph missed the excitement of the "Second Annual Fair of the Troy Farmers’ Club, to be held on their New Fair Grounds….September 27th, 28th, 29th, 1876." If there was a program of the first Fair, it is not to be found, but a copy of the Premium Book of the second Fair does exist. It was printed by A. S. Hooker and lists all those connected with the proceedings that year.
A. H. Thomas was President. He was the grandfather of Alonzo W. Thomas, Porter Road, Troy. G. M. Card of Sylvania was Secretary. His Great-nephew Wendell Card of Sylvania says he lived on Porter Road were Donald York now lives and "kept the books well and with meticulous care." John McKean was Treasurer. It was his last fair. He died March 8, 1877.
The greatly-enlarged organization included the following vice-presidents: S. D. Cobb, Troy; H. S. Taylor, F. P. Cornell, Columbia; Henry B. Card, Sullivan; ______ Young, Armenia; S. H. Hill, Burlington; Wm. Lawrence, Canton; Eben Lilley, LeRoy; Valentine Saxton, Granville; O. P. Harkness, Springfield; John Gillett, South Creek; H. C. French, Rutland; J. Whitehead, Union; Geo. Beardsley, Ward.
Directors were: B. F. Newbery, L. G. VanHorn, W. R. McMahan, Seth Sherman, Lafayette Gray, R. Stiles, Wm. G. Bradford, G. F. Ballard, Thos. S. Manly, J. B. McKean, L. P. Williams, J. C. McKean, S. L. Lindly, F. P. Cornell and S. U. Case.
Superintendents of various categories at the Fair were: Cattle, L. P. Williams; Horses, W. S. Dobbins; Swine and Sheep, J. C. McKean; Poultry, W. C. Pierce; Farm and Dairy Products, W. Bradford; Domestic Department, E. Loomis; Mechanics’ Hall, R. Stiles; Forage, U. D. Baxter; and Miscellaneous, Ed. Redington.
It cost one dollar to become a member of the Fair, and that entitled the payer to enter all articles for exhibition, but it was stated that "premiums will not be awarded to animals or articles not worthy."
Unlike today, the Fair committee provided for most of the needs of the stock being exhibited. The 1876 Premium Book tells exhibitors that "stalls and pens will be provided on the grounds, and hay and cornstalks, straw for bedding and water will be furnished for cattle, horses and sheep without charge; also grain for swine and poultry from the opening until the close of the Fair.
"Grain for cattle, horses and sheep will be for sale on the grounds at reasonable prices; exhibitors should report at once if unreasonable prices are exacted."
It is sad to think that some people did not appreciated so much for their dollar, but the book adds this note of warning.
"As horses possessing no merit whatever, and not worthy of exhibition, will sometimes be entered in order to secure stabling at the expense of others, the executive committee will order all animals so entered off the grounds, and the entry money paid for such animals shall be forfeited."
Single admission tickets cost 25 cents; family tickets, six for one dollar. There was no indication in the book of any entertainments, other than the exhibits or any contests of skill, such as horse pulling. A few interesting categories for such premiums were given were working oxen, matched mules for farm use, six scythes and snaths, dog or sheep power for churning, leather valise and carpet bag. Under manufactured articles there were two-horse carriage, lumber wagons and sleighs, pleasure sleigh, butter pails and corn baskets, specimen of common brick for building purposes, washing machine and clothes wringer and a pork barrel.
Homemade or articles of domestic manufacture included 10 yards of rag carpet, knitted stockings of wool, cotton or silk, fringe mittens, specimen of hair work and chair tidies. Painting and fancywork exhibits included waxwork, agricultural wreath, ornamental penmanship, ambrotypes, photographs and daguerreotypes. A note in the stock section said, "No premium will be given for speed."
There must have been a souvenir stand at that Centennial year Fair because both Ruth Kinney, Granville Summits, and Florence Mitchell, Troy, have preserved souvenirs that an older relative proudly brought home. Each is the same---a shell boat with a clam shell as the hull and two mother-of-pearl sails. On one sail is painted "Troy Fair, 1876," and on the other the name of the owner. At the edge of the boat sits a small figure of a little boy.
And we known the traditional candy of fairs was sold at the very first Troy Fair because the same family has been making it ever since. Warner Taffy, made on the premises, is believed to be the only Fair attraction which has survived, virtually unchanged, for the entire 100 years of the Troy Fair’s history.
Today it is being operated by Gerald O. Warner, East Troy, his wife and children. The originator was Gerald’s grandfather, the late G. W. Warner, an East Troy farmer who conducted other businesses, including selling medicine for Dr. H. H. Cole, Binghamton. He used a horse and buggy for his medicine route, and traveled with his taffy kettles by wagon to a dozen or more fairs in Pennsylvania and New York as far away as Hornell.
His grandson says: "He would go from fair to fair and live right there, sleeping in a tent he carried with him, cooking and eating right on the grounds. There were no night fairs in those days as there were no electric lights."
G. W. Warner would be away each season for 4-6 weeks, and would make candied apples and Crispettes (pressed molasses and popcorn bars) as well as the "secret recipe" taffy for which the Warner family is famous.
Later his son Orrin took over the business and Gerald was raised in it. His summer work with his grandfather and father put him through college, he says, and he has been in full charge since the death of his father in 1954. His children have been learning the business from the copper kettles up, just as he did. The jaw-breaking, six-inch slabs of good, old-fashioned taffy, sold by the piece, will be found at the Warner Booth on the Midway this 100th year with a special display of the early candy-making equipment which the Warners have preserved.
Before Fair time in 1877, a good substantial track was laid out under the direction of William S. Dobbins. People flocked to the third Fair on September 12, 13 and 14 and found many improvements in evidence. The largest attendance in one day was 2,345.
S. W. Pomeroy, Troy, had replaced the late John McKean as Treasurer, and an extra Reporting Secretary had been added in the person of G. F. Ballard. A room had been provided "for relics, curiosities, paintings, etc., where the Club will take charge of such property and be responsible for its safekeeping." These were to be exhibited under Miscellaneous.
A special feature of the third afternoon was the horse pulling matches for both teams and single horses and mares.
By 1879 the Fifth Fair offered a premium for the best equestrian display by a lady, and by a girl 12 years old or under, and advertisements had begun to appear in the back of some of the premium books.
Davison & McCabe had been selling The Buckeye Mower in Troy for 20 years, and called it "the least liable to get out of order." You could buy a variety of plows, hoes, harrows and cultivators which were made in the Mitchell & Green shop in back of Newbery, Peck & Co.’s store, and while you were in downtown Troy, you could "Get A Good Meal for Twenty-Five Cents" at Bradley’s Dining Rooms on Main Street.
The Women’s Pavilion had been added in 1878, and a large floral tent was one of the most popular features of the 1880 exhibition. Premiums were paid that year for eight different breeds of sheep, for specimen horse shoeing and for handmade horse shoes, and for the best cooking and parlor stoves for wood or coal. The latter category had been a Fair feature almost from the beginning.
The ladies had really come into their own with prizes for 101 made-at-home articles, including a few made on that new-fangled sewing machine and 39 categories of culinary articles.
Some categories that sound mysterious to us today were: wool java canvas tidy and imitation tidy, braided night dress, silk toilet cushion, railroad canvas tidy, pair van mats, air castle, moss work, and pie plant jelly. Antique collectors and dealers would find old fair programs helpful in dating Victorian fancywork.
After the successful Fair of ‘81, the Troy Farmers’ Club had a new concern. Their lease of the Joralemon property was about to run out, and with increasingly larger crowds it was too small.
By May, 1882, a committee of the Hon. Delos Rockwell, A. B. Waldron and G. M. Card were prospecting all over the area looking for suitable grounds for the by now solidly-established annual event. After "some variety of opinion," they finally settled on the beautiful grounds known as "Alparon Park" on the farm of John A. Parsons, one mile northeast of Troy Village. The property had been deeded to Daniel and Jehial Gregory from the Drinker Tracts in 1821, and the house at the northern end of the Park, now occupied by the Budd Mitchells, had been built soon afterwards as a tavern or inn. It was bought in 1839 by Dr. Alfred Parsons, for whom the farm and park was named.
The new grounds, leased from John Parsons, had a fringe benefit. The railroad ran parallel to the park, and it wasn’t long before trains were stopping at the fairgrounds to accommodate the thousands of premium and pleasure seekers and to facilitate the unloading of stock and supplies. It was this same "benefit" that caused Dr. Alfred Parsons to vacate the original house in the 1850’s because the trains made his house tremble and almost rumbled through his bedroom. He built a new house on what is now the Bud Cunningham property.
It was a busy spring of ‘ 82. To quote from a history compiled for the 1955 program: "The buildings on the old Fair Grounds were torn down, and under the careful management of C. E. Parke, they were moved to the new quarters, and there erected, a task involving a great deal of labor, which was generously shared by the leading members of the Club. Austin Leonard, S. U. Case, B. L. Rockwell, A. B. Waldron, and W. S. Dobbins were appointed a committee, to lay out and survey the ground. S. U. Case prepared a suitable road, and Austin Leonard, Prof. J. T. McCollum and W. E. Chilson laid out a fine half-mile track, which was graded and put in good condition under the superintendency of B. L. Rockwell and S. U. Case. By herculean efforts, which can only be appreciated by those who assisted, the grounds were got ready for the Fair. The fence was built by R. Stiles, and a good hitching ground was put in shape for the convenience of the public by A. B.Waldron."
When the crowds flocked to the Fair that September, it was obvious they appreciated the new Fair Grounds, even though there was no horse racing. "Mr. Parsons," reports an earlier history, "in leasing the ground to the Club, voiced the sentiments of the organization when he refused to permit horse racing on the grounds, stipulating that while trials of speed were desirable enough, and the awarding of such premiums as might be necessary to secure proper trials of speed were allowable, yet anything that would induce betting and the assembling of jockeys and gamblers should be discouraged. The standing reproach of so many Fairs, that they are but ‘Agricultural horse trots," has been carefully avoided in the Troy Fair, but there has been, under the judicious fostering of the love of find horseflesh and the trials of speed, a marked improvement in the quality of the horses of Western Bradford, which is readily recognized by buyers."
The following year a judges’ stand and a poultry house were added, and "the dining hall on the grounds has at all times been a great convenience to those from a distance." Top premium for "Horses for Speed, Trotting in Harness" was $50.00, and there was also a prize for farm horses that had never trotted for a premium.
The Tenth Anniversary was celebrated by a new Grandstand, capable of seating 600 persons, which was well filled for the Fair’s first Baby Show and Band Contest.
Imagine the excitement which prompted this contemporary account. "The immense crowd that gathered pushed and pressed its way into it to see the award to the babies. Sixty-two of the darlings laughing, crying, shouting, or sleeping were brought forward and the $10 prize went to Allie Evans, daughter of Frank Evans of Sylvania." Judges were Delos Rockwell, B. B. Mitchell, A. C. Fanning, W. E. Chilson and A. Morgan.
It was a successful season. Crowds had reached 7,000; about 1200 teams were hitched in and around the grounds; and the best day’s receipt hit $1,050.
Advertising had reappeared in the program after an absence of a few years. It tells us much about the life and times of the community and the local merchants.
Bull and Sargeant had a Topping Fruit Evaporator in four sizes with heater attached that "will pay for itself in from one to two weeks." C. N. Lee, Artistic Photographer, had taken charge of the Gustin Gallery, and was making photographs by "the new Lightning Process." B. B. Mitchell not only sold drugs, books and stationery, but also paints, varnishes, wall paper and fancy goods, including Celluloid Sets (the first plastic), Croquet Sets and "Bass Balls."
Wooster & Boothe in "Oliver’s Block," now the site of the First National Bank of Troy’s parking lot, were dealing in groceries, crockery and fine china, Majolica, stoneware and lamps. Redington & Leonard, in addition to selling, clothing, groceries, boots and wall paper, were "in the market at all times as Cash Purchasers of butter."
Lady fairgoers were interested in the DeWitt & Ballard advertisement about "a very desirable assortment of domestic dress goods." Who today is familiar with such goods as "Black French Armures, Nun’s Veilings (of flannel), Albatros, Buntings and Cheviots, with "Guipure and Escuro Laces" to use as trimmings? Newbery, Peck & Co., Established in 1853, also carried dress goods along with hats and caps, boots and shoes, tubs, firkins and churns, and groceries. As many other stores did, they paid a high cash price for butter.
The first ad for a sewing machine, The Royal St. John, appeared in the 1885 program--"the only Sewing Machine in the world that turns either forward or backward and yet sews in the same direction." A woman, Florence Piper, was the Troy Agent. Miss M. A. Sherman, at 18 Main Street, sold ladies’ wear and ran a "Five Cent Store" as did G. Bradley at 12 Canton Street. Bradley also had such widely diverse items as Rockingham ware (valuable collectors items today) and "Tropical Fruits of all Varieties."
Geo. Dillin had just put in the "New Roller Process" in his Mills on Elmira Street and urged farmers and others to call upon him. Up at 29 Canton Street, Joralemon & Slingerland’s Oyster Bay said, "Farmers should remember our warm meals and lunch counter" where they could get fresh oysters and fish at all times. The first ad for "Ice Cream in Season" was run by M. H. Rumsey at 25 Canton Street. R. C. Kendall and S. R. Holden were both "Operative and Mechanical" dentists. Holden’s ad was illustrated by a set of false teeth. At his office on Canton Street he would administer "Nitrous Oxide Gas for the Painless extraction of teeth. Chloroform and ether administered when desired. The new Anaesthetic Cocaine also used." Kendall used the "new anaesthetic Vitalized Air" and gas if desired. His artificial teeth could be inserted on gold, silver or rubber.
G. O. Holcombe sold railroad tickets "at the lowest rates." He was Agent for the Erie Road & Connections and, reflecting the westward movement of the times, sold "Landbuyers Tickets to the West, Furnished Very Low."
G. H. DeWitt, Prop’r of The Troy House, offered "Special inducements to farmers stopping in town, having ample stable room with two good men in attendance." The hotel had been remodeled in 1869. You could get a good meal for 25 cents and a room for $1.00, but it wasn’t until 1892 that The Troy House proudly advertised, "Lit by Electric Light. Heated by Steam."
Troy People were delighted by an article that appeared in The Philadelphia Press during the 1885 Fair. Headlined, "What a Farmers’ Club has done for Bradford County Folk," it went on to say: "The club, which numbers several hundred members, including 175 life members, has the unique distinction of being the only farmers’ club in the State, composed in its working material wholly of farmers. Its exhibition of cattle and horses is unsurpassed in the State. When it began, there were but five registered herdbook cattle in Western Bradford; now there are over 300 head, and the fine grades are numbered by thousands, including one-half the cattle in West Bradford."
The Club suffered a setback on July 5, 1886, when the still new Grandstand was burned to the ground. It was never discovered if the fire was accidental or incendiary, but prompt measures were taken to rebuild it in time for the next Fair.
The years passed quickly and Troy was growing. In 1887, J. M. Young was Proprietor of the Knights’ Hotel on Main Street, "New, Neat and Comfortable!" He also was the patentee of "The Celebrated Wagon Jack, The Best Style Ever Made."
H. C. Rolison ran the Farmers Mills on Canton Street; the noted Attorney A. C. Fanning also sold Western Lands and negotiated loans for Western Real Estate; and G. O. Holcomb was breeding and dealing in Thoroughbred Herefords at Brookside Farm. D. J. Brown advertised that his "Japanese Ice Cream Alcove" would be open from May to September, and Jewell & Lamkin were opening a new men’s furnishings store on the corner of Canton and Main Streets. Troy, photographer O. E. Dewey, at 18 W. Main St., also sold bicycles and tricycles. "I have an English wheel which I have rode over 1,000 miles over rough roads. "Call and examine," he said proudly.
There were a change in the program of the 15th Annual Fair. A H. Thomas, Charter member of the Club and its President for 14 years had stepped down. The new head was T. F. Porter of Granville. Seth Sherman and S. W. Pomeroy were Vice-President and Treasurer, respectively; G. M. Card was still Secretary, and Austin Leonard was Reporting Secretary.
More changes in 1890 saw George Holcombe as President and Woodward Berry of Berrytown as Vice-President. J. R. Van Noy of East Troy was the new secretary. G. M. Card had served in that office for 15 years. There were now five different races with a top, premium of $75.00, and there were 29 categories in the growing Art division which now had its own beautiful Fine Arts hall.
A highlight of the 1892 Fair was the Ladies’ Harness Race. The poor girls had to work hard for an $8.00 First Prize. "At the word, horse to be harnessed, with complete buggy harness, hitched to four-wheel wagon and driven half-mile heats. Best two in three." A new Dining Hall had been built the previous year in the Grandstand and you could eat well for a quarter or bring your own lunch to eat on the grounds. F. N. Hubbard of Wetona had become President, and a notice to the public, trying to scotch rumors that the Club delayed in paying premiums, stated that it had paid every bill in full for the past 17 years.
The following year a notice in the Premium Book informed the public that the Club, "owing to the embarassment of a year ago," felt it was necessary to re-organize and own its own buildings and real estate. It planned to issue $10,000 worth of stock, to be sold in shares of $25 each, with no person allowed to hold more than a limited number of shares.
That issue was notable for the first ad for "Sanitary Plumbing," indoors of course, to be done by Levalley & Jenkins of Elmira, and for the Morris House, Ben Williams, Prop’r, which later became the Williams Hotel.
The next year’s note to the public carried praise and a problem. In referring to 20 years of Fairs, the farmer fathers called them "unrivalled by neighboring fairs" and have "aided in advancing the agriculture of Western Bradford to a very high point, compared with the greater portion of the State."
However, the message continued, "For the first time in 19 years, the Fair of September, 1893, had to struggle with adverse circumstances: bad weather; the effects of the great cyclone, which kept hundreds away and injured the show of crops; the influence of the World’s Fair, which prevented many from coming; and the depressing effects of the sudden hard times." There had been a major economic panic in 1893.
The 29th Fair in 1894 drew crowds to an unusual event, a public marriage. E. J. Hill offered an elegant eight-day clock and M. L. Case, a birdseye maple Singer Sewing Machine to the couple who would be married on the Fair Ground. The names of the participants were not known in advance; they are not known today. The event was so successful, it was repeated a few years later.
Another successful innovation was the new Babcock Butter Test which could determine the amount of butter fat in the milk of any cow. Dairymen were invited to test their milking stock over a two-day period. Tests were made "under the direction of Mr. Lucien Loomis of East Troy, a thoroughly competent man." Special premiums were given for the highest butter fat content.
The Fair of 1895 was the last in which premiums were given for farm implements, manufactured articles such as wagons and buggies, blacksmithing, leather articles (boots, saddles and harness), stoves, crockery and glassware, all popular categories almost since the beginning. In the future, space was provided in the Manufacturers’ Building, but no money was involved.
On February 25, 1896, the Troy Agricultural Society was incorporated. It was a stock company, succeeding the Troy Farmers’ Club, formed for the purpose of holding fairs and promoting an interest in agriculture. Judson K. Innes, Granville Center, was President, with J. L. Rockwell, West Burlington, as his Vice President. John A. Parsons and John E. Dobbins, both Troy, were Secretary and Treasurer.
Dobbins moved into the Presidency the next year and A. E. Backer took over as Treasurer. That year found some unusual special premiums in the book. Lamkin Bros. offered "a handsome black serge dress with trimmings" to the mother who had the largest family of her own children. She had to bring husband and all the kids with her. Beardsley & Colony, Dealers in Hardware, offered a pair of skates "to the lady who is the most graceful bicycle rider," and J. B. Smith, Barber, offered a pair of white pigeons to "the best looking Colored Baby."
The Business Office, now occupied by present Fair Manager Neal Mack, the trotting stock building and the horse stables were erected in 1899, as the trotting races had become a major attraction. In fact, a new position, Secretary of the Turf, was created and first held by John W. Pomeroy. E. E. Van Dyne had become Treasurer and B. A. Long, Secretary of Privileges, also new. Eight trains a day, four north and four south, were now stopping at the Fairgrounds.
It was the long-awaited turn of the century, and B. A. Long was President and General Superintendent of the Society, with Charles L. Fellows as Secretary. The Premium Book carried photographs for the first time; some of them are reproduced in this booklet. It was a gala year 1900, for there was a Firemen’s Convention in town and the village was decorated to the hilt. The first Public Telephone Pay Station was installed at Alparon Park for the convenience of exhibitors and public; there was a special premium for a Tug of War between seven-man teams from townships around the county, another Baby Show, another Public Wedding, ball games and two grandstands. A novelty Slow Race had ladies and gentlemen driving each other’s horses, hitched to any kind of vehicle, with the last horse in the winner. The Grandstand Show included trained dogs, doves and goats, an aerial act, and a boxing bout between "Miss Mollie Seyan, The Worlds Famous Female Boxer, and Professor Harry Smith. This bout is strictly moral and pleases all," read a program note.
That Fair was covered by reporters from six out of town newspapers. The account in the Towanda Reporter-Journal acclaimed the event’s success and reported that "the crowd on Thursday was the largest ever seen on the grounds." Ball games were held every day with D. F. Pomeroy as Umpire, but "the extremely dusty weather made it very disagreeable for those who came from a distance." The Blossburg Advertiser estimated the Thursday crowd at 12,000 persons.
The 30th Annual Fair found Henry S. Sweet at the helm, with Liston Bliss, Vice President; Lyman H. Oliver, Treasurer; and D. F. Pomeroy, Secretary and General Superintendent. A 25 cent charge was made for the Grandstand Show which now cost $100 a day, and more money was to be spent for good baseball games. The Bliss, Willour & Price ad said, "A Woman and Her Money are Soon Shopping," presumably at their store, and local druggists were selling "Infallible Headache Tablets" which were manufactured by someone in Columbia Cross Roads. They were also selling "Greased Lightning, which banishes all pain and inflamation, as if by magic!" It was made by the Wheeler Specialty Co., Troy.
The 1905 Fair featured concerts by the Covington Ladies’ Band and the Troy Cornet Band, a Grand Parade of Premium Stock and a Public Auction of Thoroughbred Stock. "Hot" baseball games were forecast between Towanda, Mansfield, Morris Run, Canton and Troy, and there were prizes for pets, including ferrets, foxes, prairie dogs and flying squirrels. Prizes were also given in the new categories of Pyrography (burned designs in wood and leather), Taxidermy, and for collections of old coins and stamps, old china, Indian relics and War relics. The telephone company was advertising service that was "Perfection" just like today!
The Fair continued under the able direction of such men as W. W. Beaman, W. F. Palmer, F. L. Ballard, H. D. Holcombe, H. B. Van Dyne, Thomas W. Parsons, A. B. Wilson, J. C. Blackwell, Robert Krise, O. W. Rockwell, Mrs. M. H. McGlenn and many others in the early years of the 20th century.
One bull who didn’t make it to the Fair in 1925, drizen crazy by the early June heat, rammed his horns into the radiator of a nearby auto, then jumped into the car and died.
The 55th Fair in 1929 offered, just before the stockmarket crash, new Dairy Judging Contests for Vocational and Non-Vocational students and a Vocational Agricultural School Exhibit. It also offered prizes, contributed by the Troy banks, to the animals of boys and girls who had joined the newly-organized Calf Clubs. More and more Granges were exhibiting; there was now a Children’s Day; and Professor H. C. Sherman was providing "high class music."
Highlights of the 30’s included a Wild West Rodeo direct from the famous King Ranch in Texas and featuring "the riding of steers as wild as deer and of horses that cannot be matched for viciousness and bucking." One of the performers in that 1931 show took a full-page ad in the program to advertise for a husband as she was tired of show biz. She was described as having "right kissable looking red cheeks and a perfect dream of a mouth framed with red lips that have never felt the greasy touch of a lip stick." Does anyone know if she found "a man who has enough to keep me in gingham aprons and washboards?" The Fair was first opened on Saturday in that year.
The ‘32 Fair book said, "Forget the depression---come to the Troy Fair and be youngsters again….and enjoy your vacation. Few could afford to do anything else, and there were ten big acts in the Grandstand Show.
The First Annual Alparon Park Horse Show was held in conjunction with, but separate from the Troy Fair in 1941 with horsepersons from all over the East taking part in 18 events. Serious riders had to get three blue ribbons at recognized horse shows to qualify for the great show at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Troy Show was recognized.
The Fair was called off in 1942 because of the war, but made a welcome comeback in 1946. That was the year Bill Palmer, Fair President for many years, retired from business. He had come to Troy at the turn of the century to work in the shoe factory, later ran a billiard parlor and bowling alley on Canton St. On Election Night, 1932, a stray English pit bulldog adopted Bill and was named after Herbert HOOVER. After that they were rarely parted and Herbie is buried near the Fair office. Bill was credited for much of the Fair’s success.
In 1954 the Troy Lions Club spearheaded a drive to raise money to purchase Alparon Park so that it could be used as a community park. The Lions invited all Troy service clubs to elect representatives to serve on the Board of Directors. This was done, and those elected met and formed a non-profit corporation known as the "Alparon Community Park Association," which was to have complete charge of promoting and improving the grounds as a park for the community. Vic Warner was the first president, with Marshall Case as vice-president. Sam Canedy as treasurer and Mae McGlenn as secretary. Since then most of the leading businessmen of the area have served as an officer or on the Board. The Troy Borough Municipal Authority took over the legal ownership.
The Board applied for and got some State aid that year, between $600 and $700 worth.
The Free Fair held in 1955, with Harry Lammy as general manager. It was a success in spite of rainy weather. The following year Neal Mack took over as manager and has served in that capacity ever since.
Harness racing was reinstated in 1959 after a lapse of many years, made possible mainly through the efforts of Wylie McClure and Russell Scott. To raise money for race purses, a series of Matinee Races was held during the spring months preceeding the Fair. This was continued for several years until Pari-Mutual betting was legalized in the State. Now the Fair gets a share each year from the Pari-Mutual tracks, enough to take care of most of the Fair expenses.
Since then the Troy Fair has continued to be an event looked forward to each year by families all over the area. More activities have been added for young people, the Grange Hall gets increasingly crowded with exhibits, and sheep have made a comeback. They were big in the early years of the Fair, then disappeared completely as a premium category.
Under the impetus provided by co-founders Mrs. Jean Case and Howard Smith, Jr., a few years ago, Sheep and Wool Day is rapidly growing. In addition to stock judging, visitors can see sheep shearing and other processing demonstrations, plus a wide variety of crafts made from sheep products in the process of being spun, woven, dyed, dipped and cooked. Last year’s demonstration of a well-trained Scottish dog working a group of sheep will be repeated by popular demand at this year’s Sheep and Wool Day on July 23rd. The kilted handler will again be Dr. G. J. McLaughlin, a Pittsburgh area dentist.
The Troy Fair has been a Class "C" fair in the eyes of the Department of Agriculture which takes care of reimbursements. This category includes fairs that operate "on 20 or more acres of land and pay $5,000 or more, but less than $7,500" in premiums.
In this 100th year, 1975, the Fair moves into the Class "B" group, those that pay $7,500 to $10,000 in premiums. The Troy Fair now operates on 82 acres and draws an average attendance of between 10-20,000 a year. It’s in good company. Of the 104 fairs in the State only 12 are Class "A."
Founded by farmers to serve agriculture 100 years ago, and still serving farmers, the Troy Fair seems destined to serve for another 100 years, or as long as agriculture continues to be the leading occupation in this area.
(Written by Pat Barber, who wishes to thank all those Trojans who generously loaned historical material and photographs, and to all those past and present who worked hard to keep the Fair going and growing. Without them, the quick and the deed, this booklet would not have been possible.)
100 YEARS of the TROY FAIR
Following are photo captions for photos included in the booklet. Since the print quality was not good and they will require some considerable enhancement, I am not includeing many of them in this presentation. Some day when I am feeling ambitious I may edit them and add them here.
A souvenir of the 1876 Troy Fair.
The 1885 Baby Show was a howling success. Entrants looked like this.
George Warner made taffy at the Fair 100 years ago; his descendants are still making it. This 1967 view shows grandson Gerald Warner and his sons.
Early Fairs had prizes for working teams of oxen.
George O. Holcombe, Fair President about 1890, sent out this card to advertise the Fair. Working horses was a popular category.
There were premiums then for best exhibits in the Merchants Building.
The Fair Office was built in 1899, but the old cow barns are long gone.
People came in buggies and parked them everywhere, 1200 or more at a time. Lucky horses were covered with a checked tablecloth to keep the flies off.
A highlight of the 1894 Fair was a public wedding, with names kept secret in advance. The rigid lady on the platform at left looks disapproving.
The 1892 Troy Band poses on Elmira Street on its way to the Fair. Front row: Fred Jenner, Steve Hickok, Sam Johnson, Art Case; second row: Mr. Wheeler, Jim Tobin, Jim McGothran, Perce King; Third row: Bob Weigester, George Mitchell, S. Johnson, Clarence Boyce; Fourth row: Herm Pierce, Mr. X., Howard McMahon, and Rollo Holcombe. The building behind may be site of the Troy Hospital.
The Poultry Barn was the scene of a dozen of more varieties of colorful fowl; Percy King had his palm read before there were rules for flag display; and Sugar Creek was a picnic spot.
A family picnics in front of the merry-go-round before visiting the Grange Building at right. Below is a typical Fair scene around the turn of the century. The sign at center reads, "Check your bicycle and packages here."
Eight trains a day provided excellent service for Fair visitors in 1899.
That’s the Troy Hotel under all the flags and hunting. A popular watering spot for Fair visitors, it was decorated for a Firemen’s Convention in 1900.
This Grandstand crowd of 1908 enjoyed a spectacular show and fine horses.
This is the way the Fair looked in the first decade of the 20th century.
Money was raised for race premiums when times were tough by a series of Fair Matinees. Here’s George Pike driving in the Joe Walter Memorial in 1959. At left are Hank Case, Wylie McClure and Slim Hendershot with unknown handler.
Nothing equals the excitement of trotting races, a feature of most Fairs.
Sheep, once big at the Fair, are making a comeback, thanks to the institution of Sheep and Wool Day. The sheep-working demonstration will be seen again this year, along with the in-progress showing of wool crafts.
Here’s Art Loomis with a ribbon on Nightshade’s bridle at a Troy Horse Show about 1941.
Martin III was a famous stud owned by Spencer Gernert, who is leading him in a 1934 Fair Parade. Following are some highly-prized colts Martin Sired.
Some of the Directors of The Troy Agricultural Society in the 1950’s were from left: Jerome Benson, H. D. Holcombe, Sec., Mrs. Mae McGlenn, State Senator Albert E. Madigan, A. B. Wilson, Robert Krise, V. P., and O. W. Rockwell.
E. Neal Mack, present manager, has put on successful Fairs since 1956.
1975 officers are from left: V. P. Alonzo Thomas, whose grandfather
was first president; Pres. Floyd Haight, Sec. Eugene Rockwell, Treas. Anna