Posts tagged Columbia County
Posts tagged Columbia County
Since it is my first year not hibernating through the winter, I’m learning about some of the fun things people have done in Columbia County to pass the time in the cold weather. One way that people had fun (and still do!) when it got cold was ice skating. Columbia County has many lakes and ponds that are perfect for ice skating once they froze over.
Skating was such a popular pastime in Hudson that the Hudson Skating Club was formed in the middle of the 1800s. In fact, skating was really popular all over, and many towns and cities created skating clubs. The Hudson Skating Club published rules for proper behavior on the skating pond in the Hudson Weekly Star newspaper on January 11, 1862. The rules stated:
I guess most of the rules would still be pretty useful at the skating pond today!
Here is a pair of ice skates that are in CCHS’ collection:
They were made some time between 1875 and 1900. They look a lot different from the skates people use today, don’t they?
This postcard shows people skating on “Lake Underhill” in Hudson (today, it is called “Underhill Pond”):
The postcard is from 1910. If you look closely, you can see that the people are dressed quite differently than we might to go ice skating today- most women wouldn’t wear long dresses to go skating!
Do you like to ice skate? Do you go to Hudson to skate on Oakdale Lake (which is right near Underhill Pond, and still hosts ice skating in the winter), or do you have another favorite spot?
Read about the first part of my visit to the Columbia County Fair here.
After I finished up my shift working at the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative booth in the fair house, I had some time to explore a little more of the fair. My first stop was the Heritage Village. In the Heritage Village, a variety of talented craftspeople demonstrate historic and more modern crafts. It was a lot of fun to watch them, and see how things are made!
Here I am with John Clum, learning how to make baskets. Baskets like the ones he makes might have been used by farmers in the earlier days to bring their produce to the fair.
I learned a bit about rug hooking from Joann Pino. She makes beautiful wall hangings and rugs by pulling pieces of recycled fabric through holes in a piece of burlap. For example, that beautiful gray color that she was working with might have originally been a pair of gray wool pants.
I got to visit with my friend Jacob Kuhnan, a blacksmith (I first met him at CCHS’ Civil War Encampment). It was nice to see him work this time in a full blacksmith’s shop, instead of just on a portable forge.
I also got to meet Dick Brooks.Dick is a very talented wood carver, and also a bit of a local celebrity. He writes a very funny column that appears in the weekend edition of the Register Star and Daily Mail! Here he was showing me a piece he was working on, a small gnome-like creature. Once he finishes carving his pieces, he paints them, and they are very beautiful.
After I made my way through the Heritage Village, I checked out some of the other exhibitions at the fair. Agricultural exhibitions have always been a huge part of the fair. They include the animals I got to meet. In fact, the fair was created as a way for farmers from all over the county to get together, learn about new practices on their farms, and even compete.
Craft and art exhibitions are also a big part of the fair. I started out by checking out the photography exhibition.
I also checked out displays by the garden clubs from different towns, some beautiful quilts, and some very tasty looking foods (next year, maybe they will ask me to be a judge, so I can taste the pies, pickles, cakes, and other goodies).
Next, I headed over to the wool building. As you can probably guess by the name, the exhibits there all have to do with wool… wool that has been sheared off of sheep, wool that has been spun into yarn and dyed, wool knitted items, felted wool things, and wool hooked rugs.
Here I am with some of the fleece from the sheep:
If it hadn’t been so hot out, I might have jumped right in, it looked so cozy!
There were lots of beautiful animal themed hooked rugs, but sadly none with a groundhog.
Finally, I have to show off this beautiful pair of knitted wool socks. They were made by one of CCHS’ volunteers, Sue Charboneau! Sue also makes beautiful hooked rugs, and helps with the setup of all the wool items in the wool building.
Another CCHS volunteer, Paula Van Meter, also had a fantastic rug on display, but I didn’t get a good picture. Its neat that we have such talented volunteers though!
After I finished checking out the exhibitions, it was time to check out one more important part of the modern Columbia County fair… the rides!
Sadly, I wasn’t tall enough to ride.
Did you go to the fair this year? What is your favorite part?
Last Friday, I got to attend my first ever Columbia County Fair! I did a little research on the history of agricultural fairs in Columbia County last week (you can read a bit about it here). I learned that Columbia County had at least two fairs in its history, both of which started in the 1800’s. The current Columbia County Fair, which is held each year in Chatham, was the first of two… it was first held in 1841! In fact, it is the eight longest consecutively running (happens every year) fair in New York State. For a while, the fair was held in Hudson. Then, in 1852, it moved to the village of Chatham. You can read even more about the history of the Columbia County fair here. There is also a new book about the history of the fair (which I meant to check out at the fair, but I got too busy! An article was just published in the paper about it.).
Here I am giving my special “exhibitor” ticket to the gentleman at the gate. Although I got to have some fun, this was a working trip too. The special ticket was because I had promised to work at the LVC booth in the Fair Building… but more about that later.
A major part of the history of fair has always been the animals! While there were no groundhogs (in fact, I overheard some farmers grumbling about groundhogs… oops), the fair has always included exhibitions of different kinds of animals, including cows, horses, sheep, pigs, and chickens.
My first stop was the ducks and geese. This is a pair of Toulouse Geese. They were named after the city of Toulouse, in France, where they were originally bred. They are a pretty rare breed in the United States- there are fewer than 5000 breeding pairs. Their sign said that they were quiet and gentile, so I though I would have a chat. Quiet was right though- you can see that the one in front was more interested in preening than talking to me!
Next I checked out the calves and cows. Here I am with one of the calves and the young farmer who helps take care of it:
Speaking of cows, there was one special treat that everyone recommended that I try… a freshly made milkshake!
It was delicious!
After seeing all those nice animals (I visited the sheep too, but they has just been through sheering, so they didn’t want their photos taken), and quenching my thirst, it was time to go to work for a while. Here I am at the booth that represented the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative, or LVC for short. The LVC is a group made up of many of the museums and tourism organizations in Columbia County… in other words, a lot of people who love history, just like me! Its members include CCHS, Clermont State Historic Site, Steepletop (The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society), Frederic Church’s Olana, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, the Shaker Museum and Library, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Columbia County Tourism, and the Columbia County Lodging Association. My job was to encourage visitors to the fair to visit all of our great historic sites. You can also see a giant map of Columbia County behind me. We asked visitors to add their history story to the map- people definitely had some neat stories!
I did get to see more of the fair after my work shift was over… more on that tomorrow!
Do you know what today is?
It is the start of the Columbia County Fair! I’m looking forward to my first fair as a history ambassador. I’m planning on visiting on Friday evening… I promised my co-workers at CCHS that I would help out at the Landmarks Visitors Collaborative booth, in the main Fair House (the big yellow building). You can come say hello to me from 4-7:30pm on Friday. I hope to get there early so I can walk around and check out the sites (and visit some of the many animals that are there!).
Getting ready to go to the fair got me thinking about the poster, above, from CCHS’ collection. It was part of the exhibition Inked Over, which was held at the museum in 2010-2011 (the exhibition was all about things that were printed). The poster was an advertisement for an agricultural fair that was held in Hudson in 1860. As you can see, the fair was put on by the Columbia Agricultural and Horticultural Association. This was not the same as the fair that is held in Chatham each year, which has been put on by the Columbia County Agricultural Society since 1841… for a while, Columbia County had two fairs! The fair that is advertised in the poster took place at a fairgrounds in Hudson, located near the present day intersection of Fairview Avenue and Parkwood Boulevard. You can see it here in the 1873 Beer’s Atlas:
Here is a modern view of Hudson, with the fair ground pictured in the 1873 map placed in its correct location:
The fair poster lists some of the attractions that could be expected at the fair in Hudson… some of them are very similar to things you can find at the Chatham fair today! Just like today, there were also exhibitions of “Cattle, Sheep, Swine and Poultry, Farm Implements, Household and other Manufactures, Products of the Dairy, Orchard, and Garden, Fine Arts and Mechanical Products.” The poster also lists a “trial of speed” for horses… a horse race. Horse races were part of the Hudson and Chatham fairs, but are no longer included in the fair schedule.
My favorite part of the fair poster is the engravings of the animals:
Perhaps I will get to meet some of the descendants of these animals when I visit the fair on Friday? I promise, I’ll have lots of photos to share with you, and a little of the history of the Columbia County Fair!
Here I am at the Civil War Days Living History Encampment with my friend Bill Payne. Bill joined us for the encampment for several reasons: he is a reenactor (as part of the US Naval Landing Party), an author (he wrote the historical fiction bookA Veteran in a New Field,which is a fun fictional story, set just after the Civil War, with lots of real historical details), and a musician (as part of the group Veterans in a New Field).
The Veterans in a New Field were one of two musical groups who performed Civil War era music during the encampment (the other was the 77th Regimental Balladeers). Both groups play music that is fun to listen to, but they also know a lot about the history of the music!
After the official performance by the Veterans in a New Field, one of their members shared with me an old song about groundhogs— I was excited until he started singing— it was about eating groundhogs for dinner! Yikes!
In addition to the reenactors, there were two blacksmiths demonstrating their craft during the Civil War Days Living History Encampment. Here I was with Jacob Kuhnen, watching how he worked a piece of metal. Blacksmiths were very important during the Civil War, both for soldiers and on the homefront. They would make items out of iron, like things for cooking, hinges, nails, tools— just about anything made of metal that a person would need in 1860! They also made horseshoes for horses, and often the blacksmith would be the person who would fit a horse with new shoes.
Blacksmiths work over hot coals, to heat up the metal they are working with and make it soft. Then they use hammers and files to shape it they way the want. It is hard, hot work!
I learned about the importance of letter writing from a civilian reenactor. Since there were no telephones during the Civil War, writing letters was the main way soldiers and their families kept in touch. I bet a soldier is going to be very happy to get the letter she is writing!
Here I am with some reenactors who portray General Ulysses S. Grant and Mrs. Julia Dent Grant— Civil War celebrities!
Here I am with David Griffiths, a reenactor who portrays a soldier from the 5th New York Duryee Zouaves. You can see that his uniform is quite different than the ones the boys in the 125th wore! During the Civil War, there were a number of Zouave regiments (but there were definitely much more rare than the other regiments). Their uniforms were inspired by uniforms worn by the French army. David decided to pose with me in a way that zouaves often posed in photographs during the Civil War.
In these photos from the Civil War Days Living History Encampment at the Luykas Van Alen House, I was learning a little about cooking in camp from the Civil War reenactors. In the one photo, you can see a tasty rabbit being cooked over the fire (I’m just glad groundhog wasn’t on the menu that day!). Fresh meat was not always available to the soldiers, but well appreciated when it was!
In the second photo, the girls in the civilian camp taught me how to make some tasty pastries filled with home-made jelly. Yum!