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The Thompson-Ames Historical Society
writes a weekly news release.

The most recent article is shown below.
You may view previous news releases here...

8/6/06   Horray for “Fairs”!

Posters are up, flyers are out -- all to remind us to plan to attend the Belknap County Fair, Saturday and Sunday, August 12th and 13th. The year is 2006, but it is reminiscent of many a bygone year when the Fair was a truly special highlight.

We have only to open the book “The Gunstock Parish: A History of Gilford, New Hampshire” to have Adair Mulligan’s words help us recall the importance of fairs in the 1800s and 1900s.

“Gilford Villagers particularly looked forward to September and the Belknap County Fair, considered at least by town boys to be the greatest event of the year in the mid-nineteenth century. The Gilford Town Team was a subject worthy of considerable excitement: J. J. Morrill made sure that Gilford won the coveted blue ribbon three times out of four. He spent months selecting and grooming his 20-25 biggest and best-looking yokes of draft oxen to pull his best hayrack, newly painted in light blue and glossy black. The vehicle carried 25 or 30 young girls all dressed in white, while the boys walked behind as the spectacle pulled in to the fairgrounds at Laconia.”

Adair Mulligan’s words go on to say, “The fair also included competitions, livestock exhibitions, and the products of women’s home industries. Of particular interest were the new stocking-knitting machines in operation, and wiley fakirs with their crafty swindling games.”

Over the years, the 4-H organization has given many generations of youngsters the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities which are spot-lighted at county fairs. Included are opportunities to raise and exhibit animals, such as sheep, horses, chickens, etc., also to plant gardens and select special specimens to show, as well as to try a hand at vintage arts and crafts -- all providing opportunities for youth to become more well rounded and to gain skills and confidence in public speaking.

Included also in Gilford’s 1995 history book is a photo of Thomas Elwyn Hunt standing beside a well-matched yoke of oxen, according to the caption, “the pride of Thomas Hunt and Jewell Gove in 1900.” (See the photo which is accompanying this news release.)

Gilford history is kept alive, in part, by Carole Hunt Johnson, great granddaughter of Thomas Elwyn Hunt. She reminds us that “Great Grandfather Thomas Elwyn Hunt, brother of Dr. Charles Hunt, lived in the Cartway House, which was built in 1785 on land that the family had owned since the 1600s.” After pausing a moment, she went on to say, “The family farm was called ‘The Hunt Plantation’ back in time.” (The historic Cartway House still stands on Old Lakeshore Road in Gilford.)

During Gilford’s Old Home Day, Saturday, August 26th, why don’t you plan to stop in at Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s 1834 Union Meetinghouse in Gilford Village, at 24 Belknap Mountain Road, and see the theme area displays, which include paintings and photographs of these Hunt family members?

We can thank exhibitors such as Kathy Salanitro for keeping history alive in Gilford and at the County Fairs. Her oxen are prized today just as those of olden times were. -- By the way, Kathy Salanitro and her oxen will be part of the 10:00 a.m. parade during Gilford’s Old Home Day and afterwards they will be at the Rowe House, at 88 Belknap Mountain Road, for children and adults to visit with close up.

To sum it all up, we’re sure that many folks will agree with the headline for this news release, “Horray for ‘Fairs’!”

* * *

Speaking of Gilford’s Old Home Day, we’d be remiss if we didn’t state that at Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s Union Meetinghouse will be an opportunity for questions relating to Gilford Genealogy to be posed and also for folks to see a special exhibit related to 1939-1945, the World War II years, or as Di Simpson of Wolfeboro’s Wright Museum calls it “The Greatest Generation”, which refers to the Home Front as well as the War Front. This is a special invitation for folks who have WWII memories to recall and share not only to stop by the exhibit but also to record orally or in writing memories to be share with students as they study that memorable time period.

We plan to have ready by press time next week a more complete list of Thompson-Ames Historical Society events scheduled for Gilford’s Old Home Day.