The Tunbridge World’s Fair began in 1867. The first eight fairs were held in North Tunbridge, Vermont, before “moving south.” The fair is currently chaired by Alan Howe,, who took over from Euclid Farnham after the 2009 fair (I chatted with Euclid while watching a hit ‘n miss run). Farnham was president of the fair for over 30 years, changed the fair from a “drunkards reunion,” with “girlie-shows” and unlimited alcohol, to a more family-friendly environment. This is at least the second time I have attended (I have also attended Vermont History Fairs on the same grounds in 2007 and 2014) and I can’t wait to go again, and highly encourage you to take part and experience this truly original country agricultural fair with food, entertainment, and classic carney rides and games. You may know that I have always loved learning about, and collecting World’s Fair items. Why is the fair in Tunbridge (population around 1,100) called a World’s Fair? Help, someone tell me the back story.
The fair is well organized and spread out. So, here goes a photo depiction of this year’s fair to encourage you to make it if you can this weekend, but at least mark your calendar for next year.
Let’s start with an overview from the top of the fair looking over the grounds, and back towards “downtown Tunbridge,” Vermont.
And, remember you may “click” my images for larger views and details
My favorite spot is Antique Hill (more on that later), but this is the path down from that spot looking north to the food area and grandstand.
There are horse events and competitions, trotting races, poultry, sheep, pigs, vegetables, everything from the farm. Here young farmers are having their young calves judged.
and, many, many veggies. Some extraordinary sizes, some decorated by youngsters (hook ’em young, they all got ribbons). The arrangements were creative and colorful.
One reason I will always return is “Antique Hill,” which is billed as “The Fair’s unique agricultural museum with living history exhibits: one-room schoolhouse, printing shop, blacksmith shop, barn & field equipment museum, pump logs, hand-hewn beams, saw mill & cider mill, Civil War camp, and the famous Log Cabin Museum which includes a General Store, Post Office, Weaving and Spinning, Dairy & Household Displays, Farm Kitchen and Hearth cooking.
In the long transportation building you will see the most unique collection of original condition horse drawn vehicles and farm implements. My absolute favorite, which I have to research and write about, is this 1897 hand built Steam Horseless Carriage fabricated by Edwin Flint in Canaan, NH.
This was the first time I really noticed a portable hit ‘n miss driven logging saw — until I got outside and saw one in operation.
now my printing press collection numbers eight, and I have done letterpress for over sixty years. Here is the print shop on Antique Hill.
and to get water from your spring to the barn or your farm house, just drill a hole into a log and make a pipe – and many more.
I showed you one a few posts ago from the Dublin Hit ‘n Miss show, but here is another typical Abenaki engine that was made just over the river from me. Passed the old brick factory building just this morning in BB2.
now here is something “new to me” and fascinating. Never before had I seen (nor thought about) how a log is hand-hewn. Walking along I first saw a log with notches – it made no sense at all. Then two young exhibitors came along, and I asked. By the way, it was so gratifying to see 20, 30 and maybe 40 somethings working the exhibits. Only way to keep things going is involving the next generations.
Well, the notches are cut to the depth for the ultimate width of the beam, and then the log is cut lengthwise from notch to notch, with the excess flaking off in small chips. Makes sense, you could not cut a 40 foot or more beam the entire length at once. So, hope this is a new understanding to you as well, and now all those markings on a hand-hewn timber will make sense to you.
turning around were some hit n’ miss engines in operation – and watch the saw cutting chunks of logs into pieces to later be split into firewood by the machine to the left. Something else I had never seen before was the heater in the cow drinking trough so water would not freeze over in the winter. This is where I chatted with 86 year old Euclid Farnham.
World’s Fairs — Printing Press — and also Country Stores. I have loved, visited, and collected 19th and early 20th century store items for over six decades. Here is the store in the Log Cabin Museum.
in one corner of the building there were these early souvenirs of the fair, and a floral display ribbon winner from 1868.
and, everyone loves babies
it was hard for them all, and one little one was heard to say, “let me in”
well, they had a great deal to say, or squeal about…
I have never seen so many varieties of cows and colorful chickens. Almost want to start a farm out back.
Five plus hours of enjoyment, and time to meander home. Meander I say because I saw I route to take that I had not been on before. After the 144th fair in 2015 I took the back road to Strafford, and cut over to Route 113 to see Thetford Center and Thetford Hill. Looking at the Vermont map I saw New Boston on a dirt road from South Strafford that would eventually get me to Norwich. Off I went. Stafford still great and I need to get back again when the Gothic Revival home and grounds of Senator Justin S. Morrill, a State Historic Site is open. I stopped at Coburns’ General Store in South Strafford to find out which dirt road went to New Boston which was close by. Four people, including the post master in the maybe ten foot square post office in the general story had not heard of New Boston. Finally I found someone who told me to take Mill Road and stay to the left. I was told I would pass a solar field, and wow – I did.
Twenty-eight acres of solar field I learned upon research getting home. And, in researching New Boston — nothing, no mention other that New Boston Road. But, what I did learn. This was the Elizabeth Mine area. An ore deposit was discovered in 1793, but mining of copper did not start until 1809. There was both open pit mining, and from 1886 underground mining was conducted. The mine site covered 850 acres, and over three million tons of ore were extracted from open cuts and below ground. By 1834 the site included one of the nation’s earliest successful large-scale copper smelting plants. Employing as many as 220 workers, the mine had a major impact on the economic and cultural development of Strafford and surrounding towns. By the 1980s the site was identified as a source of pollution in nearby streams. It was designated a National Priorities List (Superfund) clean-up site in 2001 by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a massive remediation effort followed. For lots of detail, and history check out this article — https://vermontbiz.com/news/2017/september/07/vermonts-largest-solar-farm-go-online-superfund-site
Now, I did not know that, and bet you did not either. The clean-up has taken 18 years and 90 million dollars. The solar field was built over the open pit. There is basically nothing in Strafford and South Strafford — and nothing in New Boston. I did see a Meeting House Road, so have to go back and explore that. But the only indication of the area is Mine Road becomes New Boston Road which in turn ends up in Norwich.
1 – Attend and enjoy the Tunbridge World’s Fair in Vermont
2 – Explore the little towns in the area east and south of Tunbridge, including all the covered bridges in the area. Check out my exploration of those bridges, including a floating bridge by reading this 2019 VERMONT EXPLORATIONS.
3 – And, have fun doing so.
Enjoy and stay safe, yours, RAY