Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bustling Trip to the Bullskin Fair

  Alright, first of all I have to get this out of the way. You'll notice that unlike the quality post I put up on the Braddock Crossing Festival at Yough Park in late June, this post DOES NOT have many photos captured at the time I visited! I do apologize folks, bear with me, as a blog post may seem slightly more boring without many of those precious distractions. Wait, I'll do what I can to make up for it!

  The reason for this apparent lack of oversight is that I simply forgot to take a camera, or more correctly, wasn't really too sure what I would do with it, anyway, and had barely given it a lot of thought. You see, I did agree to help work a booth for the Bullskin Township Historical Society on the 14th of August in the building outside the bandstand, so I didn't know if there would be many opportunities for pictures, (there were), and was reluctant in that I might sit the blasted thing down and maybe forget about it. Poof, no more camera! Yet the photos would of been fairly interesting as it was a stint from 7:30-9:30 p. m. and the place looked great on a nice, clear Thursday evening. That's not to say it doesn't look like fun in the daytime, just different. As everyone knows, you feel a more magical aura at a fairgrounds at night. To make up for this I did get back on Saturday early for a few photos below.

   Enough about my misgivings here. Let's get on to an outline of some of the Grange history.

   The township was formed in 1784 and included Connellsville, Springfield, a piece of Stewart and all of Saltlick. Some of my own ancestors were Justice of the Peace, supervisor of Roads, Auditors and what have you. The Braddock Road ran through thw township not far from here at the Greenlick Dam site. So, how could I not love this dear old region, I ask you? Bullskin Grange on Rt. 982, the Pleasant Valley Road, has an interesting history of it's own. It was first known to be organized in 1928 and they decided, sensibly enough to build a grange for the idea of a township fair. The early ones lasted three days and the parcel of land was donated by the Winebrenners, a local family. The first President was Norman Hemminger, probably connected to the area on Keefer Rd. last known as the Spaugy Mill, and first as Cathcart's, and the latest President is James Hoover. Until then, they held the first ones at the Pennsville Baptist Church. They use to have he grains and vegetables in the basement and then the poultry too.

courtesy of the Bullskin Township Historical Society

By 1937 they formed up the Pleasant Valley Grange Fair Association of Woodale with early associations of the Mudd School area. As the event expanded they added more acreage and horses and eventually a touch of circus atmosphere, lights and pinions and the truck contests we all have come to be so familiar with here and at other fairs, including the larger Westmoreland and Fayette County Fairs. Now remember, this fair is special, being the oldest in the county. Yep. And a little history was sneaked in here without anyone being put to sleep...(hey, wake up!)

  Having given a round about explanation for this seemingly drab article, I still wanted to draw some attention to the experience. 

  As I was arriving, I found myself trying to duck in to the closer parking lot, sort of hoping that those of us working a booth, (though I was not one of those that helped set it up and bring in the items, tables and various displays), hoping to be able to get better parking. Waved off frantically, by a fireman, I ended up having to go way down, and I mean Way Down in a field without any gravel, just grass, maybe a spare cow and anything they would accidentally leave behind them, so step lightly. But, the point needs made, the parking is free!

  To be honest, this isn't something I do very often. More so when I was much younger. By the time we were teenagers we would tend to walk around acting cool for twenty minutes and then sit on the wall outside the Grange hall and 'people watch' for maybe an hour or two. Believe it or not, this basically doing nothing, or spacing out, as it was sometimes termed, was considered a kind of fun and decent way to pass the time back then. Yes, that's right, in those antique days there were no cell phones, I Pads, smart phones, laptops, um...color TV's... money, or even, the last few things did actually exist in one form or other. And there were 8 tracks!

  I do hope she doesn't mind me mentioning it, but I was lucky to have Connie Rhodes on the interior of the vendor tables with me as she is a zesty and communicative lady, full of humor and a good personality to boot. I'm also not use to doing this either and Connie was quite helpful in explaining my role and what to charge. We talked about the old days with the Laurel Art Club of which she is still a member. Bev and Budd Quinn also stopped by. Well she is the Treasurer, for those outsiders that wouldn't know it and has to do her count ups later to keep track of the amount of money gained and the total of merchandise sold. 'Ching'ching.' That's not meant to imitate a Chinese person or anything, just the sound of cash, though most of it was in bills. Her daughter also was there and her granddaughter, (I think it was!), came a while to help and all. Real cute and just about to enter the first grade. 

Bullskin Fair Saturday

  So there I was, trying to sell a few calendars and tickets for a nice Amish type chest and a Lancaster porch swing, along with candles and jars and stuff. It was a fairly busy place with lots of families, kids and, yes, those teenagers passing through and checking things out. Not to say, the Lions Club or the township and other set ups looked poorly or anything like that, yet I admit to a feeling of pride in the Historical Society, (not that other Society's, say, like Dunbar, aren't capable of this as well). Enough apologizing-our booth looked 'good,' you know? It really did. And the items were interesting and there was some history involved there. We caught many peoples' eyes and there was much to gander at. There were a fair amount of calendars sold too. Did this make me feel my worth, you ask? Ah, yes, certainly. Well, maybe it doesn't take a whole lot for me to feel that way, I don't know. And there were some pretty girls there too. Hey, I'm a single guy, don't think for one minute this wouldn't be something I'd clearly observe.

  We each took a break and I went out and looked for baked good, which I really wanted desperately. It was something on my list, whether a cherry or apple pie, cakes, turnovers, whatever. I did eat before leaving for the fair, but I do have a sweet tooth about three inches long by now! Well, they were just out of...everything. Nope, nothing left. Come by tomorrow. Uh-huh. So while roaming around watching the band play some polkas, and I couldn't help noticed the huge crowd sitting in attendance and heartily enjoying it. I did see an old friend with their kids. That was nice. I won't go into it. Maybe some things should be private, right? Especially if it gets on the boring side. 

   So, I picked up a Bullskin Rodeo t-shirt, even though I didn't get to see it, or a tractor pull either, (my fault), and grabbed an Orange Crush. By the way, the traditional product and livestock judging was scheduled for Tuesday and the Garden tractor pull and demolition derby are on Saturday. There was a feeling of something missing. Mainly, the barrel roll 'ride' that use to make so many sick and the Ferris wheel were nowhere to be found. A real shame they ditched it. Not too much attempt at the games for me and being alone, no rides either, and wasn't there early enough, and didn't really stay long enough for that. I also had a long day before I came, too. So, I then wandered back to work. OK, we did do really nicely with those coupons. I was a bit paranoid, (not too much), about the cash box. I kept a close eye on it, like it needed serious protecting and I was standing guard. I don't believe I saw one soul notice it! Still, you can never be too careful.

  This was just my way of letting everyone know that I do have a rather normal life. It occasionally involves something else that's useful besides the blog. Though kind of a shy person underneath this exuberant exterior, I genuinely do like people of all kinds; it's the rows of hundreds and hundreds all over the place I'm not so sure of. Oh, and I did manage to take my t-shirt home with me, so remembering to bring the camera might of been a good idea. To be fair to myself, it is worth a bit more, though. I also didn't forget my new 'business' cards for my website, and those were passed out freely and frequently.

One of the daytime photos

   The community fair really does bring us busy human beings closer together for a week every summer. Indeed, this is where we get out a while and re-learn to cooperate and enjoy a part of our lives that is often neglected. We also are more careful driving through the little mazes, especially noticeable at night. Really, this is an experience not to be taken too much for granted and, in a real way, of some importance. To take the time to join in, socialize with rarely seen neighbors and curious visitors and celebrate a piece of what we were and still are, and hopefully, will always be; a vibrant bunch of rural and semi-rural folks from all avenues of work and play. We have a deep seated need to share some time and place, like good farmers and merchants, miners and laborers, many were our ancestors. They did so normally and much more frequently, many intriguing years ago.

Bullskin Grange building 2014

  Parting Note:
  *** Good time had by all ***

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