COUNTY FAIR

134th ANNUAL ALLEGANY COUNTY FAIR 'GREAT in '78'


| May/June 1979



THE CROQUET PLAYER

THE CROQUET PLAYER by Faith Gielow captures the essence of the era when society played the game.

Faith Gielow

108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940

'Hurry! Hurry! Up the river down the lake, Hokie Pokie five a cake' intones the candy butcher amidst the noise and smells and confusion of that annual event, the county fair. It has been a long time since I have attended one of these rural Americana events that continue to be a part of our heritage. I really wanted to see just how much they had changed over the years. Hokie-Pokie taffy was certainly going to be more like fifty cents a cake. . . assuming that filling remover was still in existence. But, really aren't they still 'business as usual?'

The 134th annual Allegany County Fair in Angelica, New York coincided nicely with my travel plans and it had two features about it to specially recommend it to me. First, it was not only an agricultural fair but a steam show of some consequence as well. Also, Angelica is still home to some of my family. Thus it was that my wife and I found a delightful campground on Almond Lake to park our 'home away from home' while attending the fair.

We dropped down off the Southern Tier Expressway at the Angelica exit and drove into town. It is a beautiful western New York state village with a central park around which the main street passes in a circle and from which many of the village streets radiate. The white wooden bandstand done in 'Carpenter Renaissance' was still there. But, more significantly, the old croquet courts had been replaced with a well-kept lawn.

Many, many years ago, Angelica had been the county seat and as such had attained a certain eminence but one of the things that I remember from the period circa 1928 was the ardent croquet enthusiasts arriving at the courts with their mallets neatly wrapped in a meal sack ready for their part in the action. Croquet was every man's game then as tennis has become today. Faith Gielow has captured the essence of this period in her sketch 'The Croquet Player' for the Heritage Days programan obviously important citizen replete with bowler hat, pince-nez glasses held by their safety cord around the neck taking careful aim at the next wicket.

In this same period, Angelica was a division point on the now defunct Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad. We used to call it the Pretty, Slow & Noisy just to tease my uncle who was claim agent for the road. The tracks are gone now, but the yellow brick depot is still there and is in use as a feed warehouse. Otherwise everything seemed about the same.