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Columns

August 25, 2012

Governor's visit to Schenevus fair in 1912 was memorable

The Daily Star — It was one of the last in a long series of events known as the Schenevus Fair, but the 1912 edition probably had people talking about it for years to come around the village. It was a case of severe weather striking when a governor came to visit.

The Schenevus Fair, according to the 1990 book “A Pictorial History of the Town of Maryland, N.Y.,” began in 1864 and was discontinued in 1914. The fairgrounds were on a farm on the south side of state Route 7 near the Elk Creek, whose previous owners were the Bulson and Odell families, and most recently owned by the Darlings. At that time the fair was a two-day event.

Gov. John A. Dix had made a visit to Schenevus on the opening day, arriving on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1912. Dix and a contingent arrived from Albany around noon that day, and with the escort of the Schenevus Band and numerous observers, went to the home of Melvin E. Baldwin, Esq., for a luncheon. After that, the governor held an impromptu reception of Baldwin’s front lawn, where he met numerous Democratic leaders in the county, among others.

We’re all aware of the sudden mood swings the weather can take in the heat of the summer, and nature provided a beauty as the governor and a motorcade arrived at the Schenevus fairgrounds.

Dix arrived at 2 p.m., and was prepared to address the fairgoers. As the Oneonta Star described it, his arrival “was timed almost to an instant with the breaking of a heavy thunder and hail storm over the vicinity, which continued for nearly an hour, sending the large crowd … to shelter in the buildings and tents scattered about the grounds.”

“The storm … did considerable damage. A bolt of lightning struck the large modern barn of Claude R. Bulson, near the entrance to the fairgrounds and endangered the lives of fully 100 people who had sought shelter.” The hailstones that fell in the village and along the Elk Creek Valley “did no little damage to crops and fruit.”

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