Town Diary - October
Sunny Weather and 22,000 Visitors for the 91st Annual Riverton Fair
would have it, October 13, 14, and 15 were unseasonably warm, sunny days with high
temperatures in the 70s. It was perfect weather for drawing 22,000 people
to the Riverton Fair. And perfect weather for the old-fashioned country fair
entertainment like the ox pull and the pie-eating
contest. These events took place on Saturday, while a band played military
songs and old standards. For the kids, the midway offered a ferris wheel and
several other rides. Inside the barns of the fair grounds, visitors could
check out chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs and wander through the winning entries
in the numerous arts and crafts contests. For the civic-minded, there were
booths to meet members of the Democratic and Republican parties, including 6th District
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, and a booth to learn more about the work of the Barkhamsted
Land Trust organization. To keep visitors energized throughout the day, an
array of vendors offered several kinds of food and drink.
Photo above- The center of Riverton
bustled with lots of activities for visitors to the Riverton Fair. In the
parking lot on the right and the residence straight ahead, local residents held
tag sales. To the left, the Village Sweet Shoppe was open for business and
attracting lots of customers!
This view from the ferris wheel shows the midway rides,
the booths lining the main strip, and the barns that contained contest winners and
livestock such as chickens, rabbits, pigs, and goats.
seeing everything the fair had to offer, visitors had more to see and do in Riverton
that weekend. Local residents held tag sales in the village center, both at
private residences and in the parking lot across from the General Store; the Village
Sweet Shoppe was packed with customers waiting for ice cream cones.
of the Riverton Fair haven't changed much in the past 50 years, which is probably
part of its appeal. Accounts of the fair from October 16, 1950 mention horse
drawing, wood chopping, and wood sawing contests as attractions second only in interest
to the politicians of the day using the fair as a stumping ground just three weeks
prior to the election. In 1950, Senator William H. Benton arrived at the fair
by helicopter. Francis Jacquier of Oaklawn Farm in Barkhamsted, then president
of the Union Agricultural society, escorted him around the fair. The helicopter
caused quite a stir in 1950. Miss Ann Hicks and Joyce Jacquier turned down
an opportunity for a helicopter ride; according to the Winsted Evening Citizen,
they were apparently having doubts about the practicability of travel in "flying
Farmers came from throughout the area to compete with their
oxen in various age classes.
same newspaper noted that the fair suffered from bad weather 25 years ago, although
it didn't seem to deter too many people, judging from the crowds. Unfortunately,
it did make the horse drawing competition a little more difficult, a buildup of
mud forced a change in location midway through the contest.
the only thing that seems guaranteed to change about the Riverton Fair is the number
of people that attend. The 1950 fair drew 11,000 people; half the number of
people who attended in 2000. The 22,000 attendance figure was up from 20,000
who attended just last year.
Plenty of decadently delicious fair food was available.
The Union Agrigultural Society of Barkhamsted,
Colebrook, Hartland, and Winchester was founded in 1909 and has sponsored the Riverton
Fair ever since. According to town historian Doug Roberts, the fair was not
held every year; the first World War and concurrent influenza epidemic, as well
as the second World War, pre-empted the fair. The great flood of 1955 wreaked
havoc on the fair grounds, damaging many buildings and livestock pens.
This year, Joanne Hammond
served as fair president, Christine Schmidt as secretary, and Bob O'Connor treasurer.
Dot O'Connor arranged locations for the 60 vendors that set up on the 13-acre fairground
opposite the Hitchcock Chair Factory. Christine Schmidt took care of entries
and membership for 400 people, as well as coordinating the contest judges.
This sawing contest, along with the wood chopping contest, have been
managed by Doug Roberts of Riverton since approximately 1946.
Would any fair be complete without pony rides for the youngest visitors?
Riverton Fair Entertains
22,000, Dina Walker, Winsted Journal, October 20, 2000
Last Fair of Season Continues
in Riverton, Joyce Peck, Waterbury Republican-American, October 10,
It's a Great Time of Year
for Riverton's Mr. Roberts, Joseph A. O'Brien, Winsted Journal, October
Assorted photos and captions,
Winsted Evening Citizen, October 13, 1975.
Report Attendance for
Riverton Fair at 11,000 Persons, Winsted Evening Citizen, October 16,
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