The Galloway Gaelic Pipe & Drums Band of Glens Falls was among the eight bands and 60 units featured in the North Warren Bicentennial Parade held Sept. 24 in Pottersville. The gala procession — as well as the Bicentennial Festival held on the Old Pottersville Fairgrounds — were the largest events of their kind locally since at least 1916.
Standing behind an exhibit of posters and news articles of the 1916 Pottersville Fair during a festival Aug. 24 that drew people from afar, town of Chester Historian Donna Lagoy talked about the historic fairgrounds underneath their feet.
An hour or so earlier, thousands of people had lined the streets of Pottersville and watched a gala parade with bands and marching units from as far away as Vermont and Canada. Such a spectacle was not experienced in this hardy hamlet since 1916, Lagoy told those examining her historical display, one of scores on the fairgrounds.
The four-division parade of over 60 units was indeed the largest held in the northern Warren County region in many decades, if not a century.
The parade and fair drew a crowd hailing from all over the Hudson Valley and lower Adirondacks.
A.P.A. Commissioner Bill Thomas of North Creek, who grew up in Pottersville, gazed at the people crowded around the various booths.
“I haven’t seen Pottersville this busy since Firemen’s Field Days was held here in the early 1980s,” he said, noting he had competed back then on behalf of the North Creek Fire Co..
While Parents visited the exhibits and various booths and exhibits, children rode spinning apple-shaped cars and whirling, airborne swings – or played various midway games. They also lined up at a booth sponsored by Faith Bible Church where the parish’s teens created balloon sculptures. Other children tossed dimes into glasses at a booth operated by the local Girl Scout Troop 3151.
Nearby, Boy Scout Dylan Baker of Troop 30 manned a mini-basketball toss concession and raised money for his Eagle Scout project – constructing basketball courts behind the Horicon Town Hall.
Among exhibiting at the fair were the Schroon Lake-North Hudson Snowmobile Club as well as the North Warren Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, both displaying the new sleds featured in their respective raffles. The Trailblazers also offered clothing and collectibles emblazoned with their logo, as did the Chester Volunteer Fire Department.
Fairgoers were fascinated with an exhibit by Mike Prescott of Chestertown, who talked of how politicians once sought to dam up the Schroon River, which would have submerged much of the region under a giant reservoir. The Friends of Chester Library hosted an exhibit with antique equipment for making paper by hand.
The Horicon Historical Society and various churches were represented with historical displays.
Greg Beckler of Natural Stone Bridge & Caves split geodes for people, explaining the multi-colored crystals revealed, while his son Bryan melted glass to create pendants and shot glasses.
Fishing guide Chris Stiles tied flies while outdoor enthusiasts watched. Bernie Hill of E-Z Marine & Storage of Brant Lake displayed to fairgoers an array of watercraft and accessories he sells.
North Warren Art Teacher Erica Leonard manned a student art display, while her teen artists browsed at the fair.
At another booth, artist Fred Holman of the Art in Chestertown Gallery painted the fairgrounds as passersby watched.
Nearby, Sandra Weber of Elizabethtown signed her books detailing the lives of prominent Adirondack women. She had portrayed one of them, Jean Robert Foster, in the earlier parade.
In a booth not far away, Wayne Bukovinsky manned a booth selling hats, mugs and other collectibles for the charity he founded, the North Country Hardship Fund.
Horicon Town Board member Matt Simpson, on the event-planning committee, watched the fair crowd, moving among the various booths.
“We had no idea it would turn out like this,” he said, noting that Chester and Horicon might collaborate more often on holding events. “I’ve never seen anything similar around here in my lifetime.”
Fellow board member Bob Olsen offered a similar comment.
“This proves the two towns can come together — and accomplish something incredible.”
Sylvia Smith, who co-chaired the event with Nancy Tennyson, said she had worked around the clock for two weeks making sure all the details were in place.
At the event, she deferred credit to Tennyson and their committee.
“This is so awesome – it’s what we hoped and dreamed it would be,” she said.
Smith and Tennyson had hired a strong lineup of bands and entertainment from Vermont and Quebec.
Performers included Adirondack singer and songwriter Christopher Shaw, as well as the Dixie Six Dixieland Band from Burlington Vt.
Musical groups that featured North Warren High School alumni included the Hudson Creek Band with Zach Smith and Matthew Kemp, folksinger Colleen Cleveland, and the Prydein Celtic Rock Band with Andy Smith on Bass.
This latter group closed out the festivities at night, singing through the finale of fireworks, that Sylvia Smith said later was the most extensive aerial show she had ever experienced. She reported that acres of people filled up the huge Old Pottersville Fairgrounds, unused for a generation.
“The skies of Pottersville were lit up like never before,” she said, noting she had drooped into the arms of her cousin and cried with joy and relief when the festival concluded.