Gary Tweedie of Walton died Wednesday morning, just weeks after presiding over his 40th Delaware County Fair as a member of the board of directors.
“The Delaware County Fair is going to miss him,” Fair President Danny Hodges said Thursday with sadness in his voice.
Hodges served on the fair board with Tweedie for 18 years.
“I’ve known Gary my whole life, went to school with his kids,” Hodges said. “He’s an icon in the community.”
Tweedie, who died at age 72, is survived by his wife, Joan, and their seven children. Outside of the fair, he had a variety of interests.
“Gary loved restoring old houses and giving them to give to their kids to get them started out in life,” Hodges said. “He farmed before he became an auctioneer by trade, traveling the Northeast to sell cars. But, he also traveled all over to attend fairs.”
Tweedie regularly attended the International Association of Agricultural Fairs & Expositions in Las Vegas. “I went with him three times,” said Hodges. “About the year 2004, I went to the IAFE to watch Gary receive the Heritage Award. It was a huge gathering, lots of pictures. Gary was so proud, so tickled.”
Tweedie was inducted into the New York State Association of Agricultural Fair Hall of Fame in 2012.
Besides his awards, Tweedie is also remembered for his humor. Hodges told a story about waiting in line with Tweedie while at the Big E Fair in Massachusetts.
“While zig-zagging through the line, Gary dropped a trick $20 on the ground. People would pick that $20 bill up, one after the other, and read ‘Gotcha’ on the back. Gary did that kind of stuff all the time,” Hodges remembered. “Don’t get me wrong, he had a serious side; we had plenty of arguments at the Fair Board meetings. But he had a sense of humor.”
Hodges remembered Tweedie as someone who seemed to enjoy every aspect of fairs.
“Gary would go on those stupid, crazy fair rides with my wife, Vinnie,” Hodges said, adding that he doesn’t have the stomach for roller coasters. “And Gary loved to try fair food. His favorite was anything that was hand-held and could be put in the mouth.”
Roger Dibble served on the fair board with Tweedie for 25 years.
“I was 15 years old when I helped him move his new wife, Joan, from Roxbury to Walton,” Dibble recalled. “When I was 22, Gary talked me into helping on the fair track. I learned how run the grader, shape the ground, and move cement blocks in and out for derbies.”
Thousands of visitors to the Delaware County Fair have heard Tweedie’s voice over the loudspeaker during the fair’s annual demolition derby.
“It’s those derbies that make me think of Gary,” Dibble said. “I can hear him announce, ‘Red flag, red flag,’ every time a car caught fire. Gary will sure be missed.”