Tuesday, October 23, 2012

170th annual Long Island Fair - Sept. 30, 2012

Well now this is almost a month late but at the end of September, my fiance and I went to the Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island. He had never been, but I remember going once or twice when I was a kid. I love anything having to do with Long Island history and it was a beautiful autumn weekend to be outdoors.

According to the fair's website at www.lifair.com: "Founded in 1841 as the Queens County Agricultural Society, The Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties is one of the oldest agricultural societies in the United States . The Society has sponsored a fair on Long Island since 1842. The earliest fairs sponsored by the Society were held on various members' farms and vacant lots in the Hempstead and Mineola area. Finally, in 1866, the Society acquired the original fairgrounds on Old Country Road at Washington Avenue in Mineola, and constructed livestock barns, carriage sheds, a business office, and surrounded it all with a castellated fence. The centerpiece of the new Fairgrounds was the large cruciform Exhibition Hall, with a high central tower capped by a grand eagle weathervane. Inside, a fancy iron fountain graced the center of the floor area that provided an exceptional exhibition space for the domestic arts, horticultural and agricultural displays of the fair.

The Queens County Fair was held nearly every Fall on the new Fairgrounds. In 1899, after Nassau County was created out of the three eastern towns of Queens County , the Fair became known as the Mineola Fair. As such, it continued to be held until the 1950s.  

As Nassau County grew, and lost much of its rural and agricultural character, the fair was displaced by the new County Court complex. The Mineola Fair then moved to Roosevelt Raceway.


In 1970 the fair returned to its agricultural roots when it moved to Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Now known as The Long Island Fair, it is held every year on a reconstructed fairground based on the original in Mineola . The fairground, like the original, is graced by a magnificent replica Exhibition Hall, complete with eagle weathervane and iron fountain. One of the largest wooden buildings constructed in the 1990's, it provides a marvelous backdrop for horticultural, agricultural, and domestic arts exhibits. The grounds also contain the only surviving 19th century building of the Mineola site - the small Superintendents' Office built in 1884.

After 170 years the Long Island Fair continues as the only county fair sanctioned by New York State for the counties of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk."

While it was fun, especially watching Sam learn how to dance with the Village dancers and getting to not only see a baseball game played with 1864 rules but also having some of the nice men involved in the old-timey league explain those rules to us, I would've loved for there to be a little more, well, history to the fair - maybe some more historical/homemade crafts, some old fashioned foods we could've enjoyed, some more historical exhibits. Also, the fair is geared toward families - so if you have kids, there are plenty of ways for them to be entertained. For two grown-ups, not so much...well, except for the entertainment of seeing Sam do-si-do :)

Listening to a band on the fairgrounds.

Sam in front of the reconstructed Exhibition Hall.

Sam do-si-dos!...

...and promenades! :)

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