Thursday, September 13, 2012

Late Summer Tradition - Haddam Neck Fair

Innovations Feature Haddam Neck Fair - Baby Show, Snapshot Contest Among Attractions headlined the 1932 news. Locally with 2012 being its 101st year, Labor Day weekend has meant one thing - the Haddam Neck Fair.
Begun to showcase local agricultural products and livestock from our area farms, the fair has seen a variety of changes especially in recent years as farms, once so prevalent to the landscape have been replaced by housing subdivisions and shopping centers. Although still attracting prize vegetables and livestock, the numbers of exhibitors and variety of produce has greatly diminished. Some old standbys continue - entertainment, outside attractions, blue red and yellow ribbons for best canned goods, flower arrangements, poultry and rabbits, and of course, the baby show for cutest or best smile.
And some things never change. As reported in 1932, "Despite threatening weather Labor Day morning, nearly 1,500 persons attended the annual Haddam Neck Fair Monday. This year the weathermen (and ladies) were predicting Monday would have downpours and the tail end of Hurricane      made its way from the Ohio Valley east.  Fortunately, weather patterns don't always act as the prognosticators predict.  Monday turned into a spectacular sunny day.  Tuesday ended up differently, but after the patrons and livestock and tractors and horses had all gone home for another year.
During the four-day event of 1932, hundreds of prizes, totaling nearly $500 were awarded by the association." In 2011, as you may recall, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene left a great many of us without electricity. The fair provided a pleasant respite and for many an opportunity to get a cold drink or warm meal. 80 years ago oxen and horses would show their prowess.
Although still popular, the tractor and truck pulls now seem to capture a larger following although many believe the heavy breathing of the cattle as they pull stone a few yards is more pleasant than the roar of unmuffled trucks or tractors.
 In 1932 a highlight was the association's famous turkey sit down dinner. I'm not sure when it stopped, probably sometime in the late 1950s,  but the Haddam Neck Covenant Church chicken BBQ certainly makes up for its loss. And food is one of the major attractions.  A variety of vendors roam the Fair Circuit but the real treat are the local organizations such as the Church, the Lions Club with burgers and fryes or the Haddam Neck Volunteer Fire Department with sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches.
Regardless of your preferences, take some time this weekend with family or friends to experience a tradition where everyone smiles.