Painted pumpkins and hayrides were just a small taste of what the Smithtown Historical Society had in store at the 2013 Heritage Country Fair. Held this Sunday on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society, the bright sunshine and crisp air made for a perfect day as fair-goers came to enjoy the sights and sounds of days gone by.
Situated throughout the vast fairgrounds, vendors were selling jewelry, honey and knick-knacks. Visitors could stop in at the various historical buildings to learn about our town’s past. Dating back to the 1700’s and 1800’s, these buildings were complete with old-fashioned furniture, wall hangings and volunteers dressed in colonial garb to talk about their surroundings.
Starting with the Judge John Lawrence Smith Homestead, the Blydenburgh family owned the Homestead before it was purchased by Judge Smith. After many renovations, he ultimately began using his home to try cases rather than traveling out to the East end. In his living room, we find an old-fashioned phonograph, a detailed photo of him in black and white, and a pleasant greeter dressed in a long, gray costume giving us a taste of what women wore in those days.
We next come to The Epenetus Smith Tavern. This was a popular spot for British soldiers during the 1700’s. Complete with a small stage area, a fife and drummer dressed in colonial outfits entertained visitors. Another room contained an old-fashioned bed. A special wooden tool was used in colonial times to tighten the mattress every night, since the material it consisted of was not strong enough to support much weight. The material used included feathers, rags, wood, rope and straw. The mattress was tightened as a way to make it stronger, so that it would not fall to the floor during the night. If it did, bugs could invade it and make holes. Hence, the phrase, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” was created.
A walk over to the Frank Brush Barn proved to be just the ticket for those looking for a little music. Various music groups and dancers entertained visitors throughout the day. The barn has a large wooden floor designed specifically for dancing.
Various kiosks were set up providing information on local places of interest. The Caleb Smith State Park Preserve was there to inform families of nature programs and activities for children. One can spend the day at the preserve observing bats, catching fireflies and learning about some of the creatures that produce slime!
Head down to the opposite end of the fairgrounds and we come to The Franklin O. Arthur Farmhouse. This charming building contains numerous large looms where cloth was woven and quilts were made. Directly outside we find a large wooden loom with a wheel where wool was spun into yarn using a spindle. Demonstrations were given throughout the day as women sat at smaller looms, spinning yarn to be turned into sweaters and scarves.
Periodically, horseback riders dressed in costume made their way down the dirt trails. Further down the trail you could find a kiosk with live bees. Children and adults took delight in hearing about how honey is made. Another stand contained a demonstration on how to make Farmer’s Cheese. Although stainless steel did not exist in those days, the demonstration added a personalized touch to the event, allowing for people to see how they can create something similar in their own kitchens. Further down the fairgrounds, small pumpkins were set up where children could choose their favorite and paint them to showcase their talent! Farm animals including goats and sheep, were on hand. Some of them made noises loud enough to let everyone know they wanted attention.
A stroll to the other end of the grounds brought us to The Long Island Woodworkers Club. They held woodworking demonstrations and showed us what kinds of tools are necessary to create furniture by hand. An antique car and truck show at the far end of the grounds gave on-lookers yet another glimpse into the past. Caricature artists were set up, providing children and adults with a fun souvenir by which to remember the day. If you found yourself hungry after all of this activity, you could satisfy your appetite with bratwurst, sauerkraut and potato pancakes.
Last but not least, Civil War and Revolutionary War camps and re-enactments provided visitors with a real taste for what army life was like. From the uniforms to the rifles, they marched and fought with precision. Smoke filled the air as each side fired shots at the other, and downed soldiers made the audience look twice to see the action.
Overall, the Heritage Country Fair was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Whether you enjoy learning about the past or just spending the day outside, young and old took delight in this annual fall tradition.