•100 Years Ago - Sept., 1909•
The long-awaited Warren County Fair will be formally opened Sept. 8, 1909 and will continue for four days.
During that time, hundreds of people will be attracted to Warrensburgh.
A procession of horse-drawn wagons carrying families are seen coming in from neighboring towns within a radius of 20 miles and they make a start for the day's outing early in the morning to reach the grounds as soon as the gates open.
The D & H railroad will furnish special trains and reduced rates on the Adirondack and Warrensburgh branches and the trolley road will run extra cars.
Automobilists from near and distant places will make the jaunt. Every man, woman and child who is able, will attend the Warren County Fair at Warrensburgh. Admission is $1 for families and is valid for one week.
"Watch the crowd as they spend the dough. Managers are working with might and main. Hoping and praying that it might not rain - Where? At the County Fair. "
The buildings and the surroundings have been placed in first-class shape and the upcoming exhibition is expected to be a record breaker. The races will be worth seeing and with good weather the splendid half-mile track will be in the pink of condition. The center of attraction will be the amusement platform in front of the grand stand, where the vaudeville performances and special acts will be given between the racing heats. The fair will have the customary side shows and fakirs. A large crowd of people bring in cattle and domestic animals to be shown. A plenitude of good music will be supplied by the Glens Falls Band.
The Nebraskan Wild West Show, an amusement attraction similar to the Buffalo Bill outfit, will exhibit at the fair. There are 25 people in the company, including cowboys and Indians. They carry a complete outfit of bucking broncos and other features to show the life of the west.
(Note - The old Warrensburgh fairground was located behind Ashe's Hotel. The grandstand, which cost an astronomical sum of $25,000, burned to the ground May 31, 1959, which brought its glory days to a close. Although the fairs lasted until 1928, the race track, located in what in later years was known as Asheland Park, was used for stock car races and thrill shows even after the grandstand was gone.
The late Kathryn Maltbie used to regale me with fair stories about "odoriferous" hogs, cattle, sheep and chickens on display and "men sneaking over to Hank Ashe's for a swig or two."She told of dust ankle-deep on the midway with ladies with parasols dragging their skirts through it all.
She spoke of sword swallowers and the "Hootchie Cootchie" dancers on the midway. There was the fat lady, clown acts, jugglers, trained dogs, a Ferris wheel, trapeze performers and wire-walkers. Kathryn remembered "Bahma" the wonder girl, who was billed as she who "neither walks nor talks but creeps on her belly like a reptile." Some of the young local boys, I heard, used to crawl through a loose board in the fence to get in free.
Ruby Banks thrilled the crowd in 1926 with parachute jumps from a balloon. The mouth-watering smell of good cooking permeated the whole area. Home brewed sarsaparilla and root beer were sold to the thirsty crowd.
Horse races, trotters and pacers, were the big draw. Local horsemen competed against each other with passion and gusto and the betting was fierce. There was an intercom connected to Ashe's Hotel so that the boys at the bar could hear if their favorite horse had come in. Ox races were conducted on Friday afternoon. "Flim-flam, winners, losers, suckers, all" as the saying goes, attended the Warren County Fair - now relegated to history - Gone but not forgotten.)
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-2210