Barton fair turns 150

copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

BARTON — The Orleans County Fair, which is 150 years old this year, has marked the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of summer for generations of Northeast Kingdom residents. Since 1868, the second year of the fair, people have streamed through the gates of Roaring Brook Park to show off their cattle, watch contests that pit beasts and machines against gravity, and to enjoy gravity defying rides.

From the start, the fair has been a place where serious agricultural pursuits contend for public attention with other activities that, through the years have been considered frivolous, if not downright sinful.

While the fair’s origins may seem lost in the mists of time, the connection between past and present is closer than one may imagine.

On August 31, 1867, a group of men met in Irasburg, then the shire town of Orleans County, and voted to create a society for the “improvement of agricultural productions, useful domestic manufactures, and the mechanic arts.” The Orleans County Agricultural Society moved quickly and the Irasburgh Independent Standard of October 11, 1867, offered a report on the fair, which was held several days earlier in Orleans, then known as Barton Landing.

In his account, A. A. Earle, the editor of the Standard lists the exhibitors who were rewarded with premiums. Among them was one H.C. Cleveland of Coventry, who came away with a total of $6.50 in recognition of the high quality of his Durham cows.

“That was my grandfather,” said Harvey Cleveland, himself a past president of the fair.

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