There are many Fair Haven Firemen's Fair traditions that have thrived, in people's memories or on the grounds, for years.
Some are common knowledge. Others are little-known, interesting factoids.
Here are a few:• It has been a tradition, since Majestic Midways has brought the rides to the fair, that the crew stands together each evening before it opens and joins in a circle of prayer.
• Roughly 500 to 600 hot dogs are sold each night at the Out Back concession, one longtime volunteer told us.
• As of opening night, 165 gallons of clam chowder had been made — all by hand, of course. How much by the end? Anyone know?
• Jeanette Choma, a Fair Havenite for nearly 60 years, who has helped out at the Grab Bag Booth for "50 years!" — she'll gladly tell you — has a closing night ritual.
She gathers a helium balloon for each fair volunteer who has passed, has her own remembrance conversation with each (from Earth to heaven), and releases the balloons.
She has no special routine and has never announced it. She just does it quietly and sends her love up to her old friends, as she has said. Sometimes she sends a balloon up as she remembers, one at a time. Sometimes she sends a few together. And other times, she sends them all up at once.
There are all too many at this stage, she has said with sadness.
• There has always been a game of chance booth with big boxes of candy as the prize. One of the most sought after big boxes of candy in the game back in the early 1970s was Bazooka Bubble Gum.
There was a bonus winning in the wrappers of the gum. Kids would stuff their mouths full of bubble gum and have bubble blowing contests as they sorted through the wrappers.
Now it would be thought of as dentally criminal to promote bubble gum in such a way. Does anyone remember what the prize was?
• For many years the most sought-after prize was the new car that was
raffled off. It sat on the front lawn of the firehouse for weeks before
and during the fair. In earlier years it was a high quality sedan, then a station wagon, then an SUV. At one point in fair history, the car sat on a rotating turntable as a showcase.
That was replaced with the Super 50/50 cash prize.
Does anyone remember what the last car was that was raffled off and who won it? What year?
• There is a favorite now-retired Knollwood School teacher who has been a fair volunteer for many years. You can usually find him at the 50/50 booth (at least in the past few years). Do you know who the teacher is and how many years he's been with the fair and fire company?
• Longtime Fair Havenite and fire company member Bill Overman used to have an interesting job at the fair. He was a clown.
He corralled the kids onto the fire truck ride, clad in a clown outfit with full make-up and handed each a lollipop. And he hung onto the back of the fire truck as it rode through town with the kids.
There was a time that he tossed lollipops to neighborhood kids as the truck passed by. When he stopped doing that, the kids made a "Down with the Clown!" sign, resident Barbara Keating told us last year. She also apologized here to Bill for the protest.
• There was a Cigarette Booth where the Money Wheel now stands. People won cartons of cigarettes. Did they bet packs for cartons, or is my imagination acting up?
• There were booths that had big bushels of peaches, housewares and TVs to be won. The absolute most coveted prize was the color TV. Yeah, I'm that old. Oh, but it's true.
• At one point, there were high wire acts featuring superheroes on closing night of the fair. They were staged right by where the Grab Bag Booth now is — in the parking lot.
• There were pony rides at the fair for many years and they were right next to the line for the fire truck ride on the Battin Road side of the grounds. Does anyone remember what year they stopped and why?
• For many years at the fair another sought-after prize was a cupie (aka Kewpie) doll. At one point they were made as toilet paper covers. The legs would go into the cardboard cylinder and the knitted dress would cover the roll.
It was a popular way to make the spare toilet paper roll available in the bathroom and "attractive." Yeah, they were pretty ugly, but very popular — freaky popular. They looked like eerie little propped-up Chuckie dolls at night.
If you can think of any other interesting fair factoid or tradition, please let us know in the comments section below.And if you have any photos of any of these things, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you at the fair!