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The Great Canton Fair Was Big Attraction at Turn of the Century

This article was printed in the Canton Independent-Sentinel Anniversary Edition in 1950.  The original article is dated September 10, 1892, the date it first appeared.

Bicycle Races Are Source of Much Interest

Wednesday, the first day, opened clear and bright a perfect day.  The old gentleman harnessed up the family horse, the daughter got into the wagon, the son hooked onto somebody else's daughter and all fell in going to the Great Canton Fair.  The old maid ladies went too, and lent an enchantment to the scene which distance, though backed by an old adage, would utterly fail to do.  The usual assignment of "kids" was present and filled the air with melody (?) from the two or three hundred "squakers."

M. A. Masten, "the wind mill run by water power," was there, horse-fiddle and all, and disposed of his whips, Yankee notions, etc., in his usual happy go lucky style.  In short, everybody was there with the exception of a few who didn't have the requisite quarter and were afraid of being caught if they tried to sneak over the hill.  Troy sent a good size delegation, East Canton, Leroy, Grover, Carpenter, Alba, Towanda and Williamsport each furnished her quota, the farming population flocked in from twenty miles around, and an almost innumerable host of Cantonians visited each Fair Day.

Apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, potatoes, grains and other products of the soil in great profusion showed to what extent thrifty farming population had succeeded in making from what threatened to be a very poor season, one of uncommon prosperity.

The culinary Department contains an appetizing array of pie, cake and other dainties, and shows that in spite of all that has been said of American ladies abhorrence to work, they still retain the art of cookery to a remarkable degree.

The ladies department is a beautiful sight, draped with specimens of feminine handiwork and one of the most attractive spots o the ground.  The Art Gallery is, as usual, filled with rare and beautiful exhibits and will be particularized farther on.

The horse, cattle, sheep, swine and poultry departments are filled with the choicest breeds and are well worth a visit.

The roomy apartment under the grandstand is divided into booths occupied by the exhibits of some of Canton's larger firms, each of which will receive a notice farther on.  Dad Backer is on the ground again this year with his dime show, and gives free outside entertainment at frequent intervals. A large steam carousel takes the eyes of children, and does a rushing business.  There are many attractions scattered about the grounds, and amusement is not lacking.

Here you are for the Fair Ground; Canton has reason to be proud of her bicyclists.  A blind man with an accordion, a cripple with a violin, and an hand organ man with a monkey discourses sweet music hourly.  Riggs Bros. induction coils make a lot of sport.  There is a freak on the grounds in the shape of a boy with hard, scaly skin like an alligator's, and a human intellect.  Local players had a match game of ball on the grounds Thursday afternoon.  Seventeen hundred tickets were sold Thursday.

C. N. Brewster, the penman of the institution, is in the Art Gallery advertising the Elmira Business College.  He does some very fine pen work.  Edison's latest improved phonograph talks to the people at five cents per head.  The Central Music House, Williamsport, has a fine exhibit in the Art Gallery under the able management of Harvey L. Ferguson, formerly of this place.  Mrs. E. M. Newman's exhibit of flowers, curios, etc., in the northwest corner of the Art Gallery is one of the finest at the Fair this year.

The first bicycle race Thursday, one mile, Novice, was won by Guy Lindley of this place in 3:03, with Will McNett of Carpenters second.  The reason Will did not come in ahead, was, himself for authority, because he put his gum in his mouth wrong and had to stop and fix it.  The first prize was a whip and duster given by Wynne & Nailen, and second was a bicycle lamp given by George E. Woodruff.

The second race was a Half-mile Safety open to local riders only.  This also was won by Guy Lindley, who got around the track in 1:29.  Walter Wright came in second and won the orange set offered by Hull Bros.  The first prize was a bicycle suit given by Salsburg & Baker, the enterprising clothiers.

The fourth-mile Dash was taken by Walter Wright.  The time was 41 seconds.  Ben Kershner of Towanda came in second.  The prizes were:  first, dogskin robe given by Drake & Griffen; second, photograph album, given by J. O. Whitman.

Ben Kershner of Towanda, carried off the county championship in one-mile Safety Race and got a Hilliard cyclometer from J. H. Trippe.  Walter Wright added a shaving mug and razor to his list of prizes.  The last named articles were given by Charles Davis.  The race was run in 3:05.

The fifth race was for the Mercury Club championship.  There were to have been three heats, but as a number of the entries were withdrawn, the race closed at the finish of the first heat, with Guy Lindley the winner.  He received a handsome gold badge from J. T. Stalford.

The last race of the day was a Half Mile Ordinary, won by Walter Wright, who rode against W. F. Updegraff of Williamsport, the champion of Lycoming County.  The prize was a bicycle bell given by G. E. Newman.

Friday's races were also interesting.  They were as follows:  First, Fourth-mile Dash, riders under sixteen years old, won by Howard Corbett, Brooklyn N.Y.  Prizes, bicycle lamp, Sweet and Tebo; bicycle shoes, J. W. Kinch.

Second, Hundred yard Slow Race, won by Walter Wright.  Prizes, Silk umbrella, Baldwin Bros.  Third, Five-mile Safety, won by J. M. Carnocan, Towanda,, Prize, clock, Paper Manufacturing Co.  Fourth, Half-mile Obstruction, won by W. F. Updegraff.  Prize, rocking chair, Rogers and Collins.  Fifth, Teamrace, Canton and Towanda.  Undecided.  Purse & $10.00.  Sixth, Half-mile Consolation, won by P. E. Decker, Athens.  Prize, silk hat, Burk & Thomas.

The name of John Corser should be substituted for that of Ben Kershner, as winner of the county championship race on Thursday.  The trotting was excellent, but lack of space prevents a review of races.  T. L. Hill has a fine exhibit of light-running Domestic Sewing Machine under the grandstand.  The silvery tones of the "Lester" piano come from the east end of the grandstand, accompanying Landon's orchestra.  J. H. Trippe, Baldwin Bros and Rogers and Collins also have exhibits under the grandstand.  Each is a "corker" in its particular line.

The Blossburg Advertiser and the Bradford Republican (Towanda) have representatives at the Fair--William Armstrong Perry.

Note:  The Canton Fair made its last stand shortly after the turn of the century.  Many old timers still refer to the farm east of town now owned by Mrs. Van de Vort as the "old Fairground."

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 29 JAN 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
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