144th TUNBRIDGE WORLD’S FAIR – 17 SEPTEMBER 2015 – TUNBRIDGE, VERMONT

Many of you may know my affinity for the old world’s fairs. I have researched and collected books and souvenirs from the major US fairs for decades including: 1876 Centennial, 1892 Columbian Exposition; 1933 Chicago, and 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs just to name a few.

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One of the top ten Vermont events is the annual agricultural fair in Tunbridge which has always been billed as the Tunbridge World’s Fair. The fair was not held in 1918 because of the Flu Epidemic. Begun in 1867, I do not get their math for the “144th annual”, but so be it. Held ten days after Labor Day the fair grounds are packed with demonstrations of farming and agricultural traditions culture, working antique displays, horse and ox pulling, horse racing, cattle and horse shows, junior exhibits, floral and 4-H exhibits. But most of the grounds are now filled with amusement rides, foods of all types, and vendors hustling stuff I do not need or want.

I was at the fairgrounds in 2007 and again June 22, 2014 for the Vermont History Fair with fantastic history exhibits. In wanting to compare the grounds for you I discovered that I had not posted last year’s experience. So, here is the approach to the “world’s fair” as compared to the “history fair” last year.

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World's Fair.

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World’s Fair.

Entering the Tunbridge World's Fair grounds for the 2014 Vermont History Fair.

Entering the Tunbridge World’s Fair grounds for the 2014 Vermont History Fair.

The open field inside the horse track for this weekend is packed with amusement rides and food vendors as is all open space.

To give you a flavor of this event, I decided to break down my images into three groups: Animals, Judging of other items, and the Midway and history village (let me live in that area and museum).  And, they are presented so you can click on an image in a group to open larger sizes. ENJOY and EXPERIENCE.

Besides the buildings for the judging of the farm animals, a couple buildings were devoted to foods, vegetables, crafts, and the like to be judged. Here is a sampling of what I saw:

And then there was the Midway and concessions. Well, probably more exciting with the lights at night.

I arrived shortly after noon, and was ready to leave by 4PM. I can now say that I have been to the Tunbridge World’s Fair. But wait, there is still time to explore. Checking the map before I left home I had planned to see Strafford for the first time, but even modified that idea. So, I headed past the 1830 Tunbridge General Store (should have stopped) and turned right on Stafford Road climbing, and climbing past great farms. My route is in pink.

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I arrived in Strafford. Check out this unique steeple on the Meeting House built in 1799.

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Another view (which you can click to enlarge)

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Below is the current town office.

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But the best reason to go back (it was 20 minutes before closing time) is to tour the Gothic Revival home and grounds of Senator Justin S. Morrill, a State Historic Site.

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

Justin S. Morrill (1810-1898) was the chief sponsor of the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Acts. The 1890 act allocated the funds from the sale of federal lands to support new Land-Grant colleges and universities that taught agriculture, business, engineering, mechanics and home economics. If I remember correctly, he built this home beginning in the 1850s.

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From here I continued south to South Strafford. WOW the busiest little crossroads I have seen, but it was 5PM and everyone was stopping at the General Store on the way home. I went in. What a great store complete with the current post office and bank branch (both open when I was there).  And the check out counters (I bought a SNAPPLE) date from the 40s and 50s with the wooden pull device to move your order up to the clerk.  A must see!

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

I then followed VT 132 east turning left on a back road to cut over to Route 113 to see Thetford Center and Thetford Hill. Both worth a visit. I turned right on Academy road which I figured was the road to Union Village. I was correct, but Union Village is simply a cluster of homes.  I then picked up Route 5 and got back onto I-91 (sorry) at Norwich.

I wanted to make this one short (as if I can ever) to post so that you may decide to experience the fair this weekend, or someone searching on-line will see my take.

RAY RECOMMENDS:

1] Experience the Tunbridge World’s Fair once.
2] Take in the Vermont History Expo when held at the Tunbridge Fair Grounds
3] STRAFFORD, Vermont and SOUTH STRAFFORD, Vermont are must visits.
4] as is the Justin S. Morrill State Historic Site – an easy side trip from Exit 2 on I-89 (Sharon exit) – just head north on Route 132

AND ENJOY !!!  — Postscript – hope you got this far, because here is an update 3 hours later.  Lil just reminded me that I forgot to mention she is from Tunbridge. WORLD, LIL IS FROM TUNBRIDGE, and her husband, Dave, is from just down the road. And, I also forgot to mention to you the very important (to me) sign just before you arrive in Tunbridge.

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And, below is the farmhouse itself. Edward Hooper stayed here and painted in the area, and Eleanor Roosevelt overnighted while visiting a nearby CCC camp. I consider my production a couple years ago of TOURISTS ACCOMMODATED by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (besides A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Tara) to be one of my greatest achievements. Fisher’s play, written after her experiences in Arlington, Vermont, is a wonderful portrayal of Vermont folks tying to make a living in Depression Vermont catering to the new-fangled motorists. Ask me about it anytime.

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3 Responses to 144th TUNBRIDGE WORLD’S FAIR – 17 SEPTEMBER 2015 – TUNBRIDGE, VERMONT

  1. Lil says:

    Ray, you forgot, or never knew but your neighbor (me) grew up in Tunbridge, VT although not 144 years ago!

    • Ray Boas says:

      I know that, remembered that, and am so sorry to relate that you are from there, and your dear husband not that far away. Just remembered too that I forgot to relate the story of the TOURISTS ACCOMMODATED farmhouse where Edward Hooper stayed and Eleanor Roosevelt, just down the road. I will have to do an amendment right away, thanks, RAY

  2. Jim says:

    Ray — what beautiful proportions that Strafford Meeting House has! Quite the nicest of its kind in
    New England, I think. And loved the picture of the porkers ‘on the sand.’ In an odd way, the pigs
    come off looking like stones in some Japanese meditation garden. All they need is the raked sand
    around them! Nice entry to your ongoing shunpiking blog.

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