By KATHRYN FLAGG
NEW HAVEN — From the get-go, the Addison County Fair and Field Days has drawn crowds, said Lucien Paquette, the 92-year-old Middlebury resident who started Field Days in 1948. In the early days, families piled into their cars, traveled to whichever local farm was hosting the fair that year and congregated to learn about the latest revolutions in agricultural technology.
This was after the Second World War, Paquette recalled, when change was happening at an extraordinary pace. The latest advancements — ranging from artificial insemination for cattle to dynamite blasting in ponds — fascinated fair-goers.
“Many of these things were novel,” Paquette said. For the first time since the war, he said, new technologies were becoming rapidly available to consumers — and in Addison County, the Field Days celebration was exactly the place to learn about these advancements.
That tradition of demonstrations and agricultural education — so fundamental in the fair’s earliest years — continues today. But while the fair — which opened its 60th incarnation on Tuesday and will continue in high gear through the fireworks on Saturday evening — certainly includes its fair share of novelties, one of the largest and most popular exhibits today looks not to the future, but rather at the past.
The case in point is an old barn tucked away in one corner of the New Haven fairgrounds, where Field Days moved in 1968. The barn, originally built around 1825, was moved to the fairgrounds in 1993 and lovingly reconstructed. It now is the hub of the sprawling antique equipment demonstration, featuring an expansive collection of old farm and household items dating back as far as the early 1800s.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — A citizens’ committee is seeking around $260,000 in grant money to introduce new walkways and a terraced viewing area to provide better access to, and enjoyment of, the Otter Creek Falls in downtown Middlebury.
The Middlebury selectboard and the committee will present the plan at a public meeting set for 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the town offices on South Main Street. It’s a plan assembled by an ad hoc “Riverfront Committee” that has spent recent months discussing ways Middlebury could more effectively use the Otter Creek Falls as a calling card to draw more visitors and commerce to the downtown.
“It would be so good for Middlebury to make that area accessible,” Riverfront Committee member Nancy Malcolm said in referring to the Otter Creek Falls. “It’s really a jewel.”
A jewel that has been likened to a “diamond in the rough” by many town officials. Many a visitor has “oohed” at the sight of the Otter Creek cascading beneath the Roman arch Battell Bridge on Main Street. Trouble is, one of the only unencumbered vantage points from which to view the falls is the footbridge that links the Marble Works to Frog Hollow. Business leaders, environmental groups and selectmen have promoted a cleanup of the debris that collects at the base of the falls, so that the area can be landscaped and made more inviting. Selectmen several years ago commissioned a study that included a suggestion to beautify and develop the rear facades of Main Street businesses that border the falls area.