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Hammond’s 74th annual fair isn’t as big as back in the day

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HAMMOND — Cow, poultry, sheep, goat and vegetable competitions, along with three-legged and sack races, brought an entire community together for the 74th annual Hammond Fair.

A fair organizer for 30 years, James R. Gleason said the event has been part of his life since he was a child and has been a family tradition for generations.

However, the size of the fair has shrunk over the years, he said.

“I can remember when the barns were full,” he said. “I showed cows here when I was a kid.”

“The number of cows has decreased because the number of farms has,” he added.

Donna L. Demick, who has served as a historian at the Hammond Museum for more than three years, has been researching the town’s annual fair.

“It was a lot more active many years ago,” she said. “Agriculture is not as big today and there are fewer farms. So we’re actually striving to keep it going as a small-town agricultural fair.”

Mrs. Demick said a positive aspect, however, is that people are working together to keep the event alive.

“It is a struggle, but they’re doing everything they can to find things of interest to people,” she said.

Mrs. Demick had a table set up in the barn during the fair to show off some of the town’s history.

“We have people that have been around for many years that might now come to the museum, so we bring things from the museum that have to do with the fair or farming,” she said. “People just love taking a few minutes to sit down and go through the old scrapbooks and talking about the old days.”

Joan V. Hadlock, a member of the Hammond Fair Committee, said the fair is geared toward children with 4-H competitions, games and races for them to participate in.

“It’s a good fair for kids to start out, if they haven’t shown animals before,” she said.

Colleen H. Tweedie, Gouverneur, has been the poultry judge at the fair for three years. She has six children, some of whom showed goats at the fair.

“The kids really enjoy the Hammond Fair because it’s short,” she said. “They don’t have to have their animals there all week long.”

According to Mr. Gleason, the fair takes a great deal of hard work to set up and pull together each year.

Stephen D. Bogart, vice chairman of the fair committee, said the event always is held the second weekend of September but wouldn’t be possible without all of its volunteers and donations.

Mr. Bogart said 132 prizes for raffles were donated by area businesses.

“That’s tough because, by September, these people have already been hit several times for donations, but they still donate to the fair,” he said.

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