History on display at 1890 Union Fair


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer    
Members of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery Civil War re-enacters, based in Marathon, fire a cannon on Main Street during the 1890 Union Fair Parade Saturday in Marathon. Other fair events included a horse pull and an assorted crafts exhibit.

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — The bygone simplicity of rural life drew Don Norton, 63, and Faye Norton, 60, to the 1890 Union Fair in Marathon Saturday.
The couple drove 140 miles from their Jefferson County home in Theresa. They stood admiring the horses in the fair’s parade.
“Here it’s nice, clean fun,” Faye Norton said.
The fair dates back to 1879, but for Taylor Sherman, 14, Saturday’s fair was her first.
“All my friends said come down, so I figure I’d come, too,” the Marathon resident said.
She was sitting with her friends Paige Parker and Ashley Lincoln, both 13 and of Marathon, waiting for the parade to start.
Parker and Lincoln were reminiscing about their favorite Union Fair foods when two oxen with horns appeared in the distance heading their way.
“I’m so jumping,” Parker said, leaping hurriedly over the stone wall she was sitting on.
Minutes later, Connie White, the fair’s organizer, started announcing the names of passing parade participants. As they marched, walked or rode down Main Street, no cars or motor vehicles could be seen.
After a team of Spanish horses passed them by, the Nortons gushed. They had never seen the horses, known for their small gait, firsthand. Watching the horses confirmed what they already knew about them.
“They’re the easiest horse to ride,” Don Norton said. “There’s no bumping or jostling around.”
Gavin Gates, 11, of Marathon, and Jacob Palmer, 10, of Marathon, laughed as a dog barked at two passing oxen.
“The dog wants to attack them,” Gates said.
Minutes later, Gates sister Gabrielle, 17, walked by smiling and waving. She was this year’s dairy queen, Gates said. Gates pointed out several other people he knew in the parade.
“Everyone is related in some way or another,” he said. “We’re a very intertwined community.”
Several moments later a canon went off, blowing black powder into the air. The men who set it off — Joshua Stewart, 23, of Marathon, Robert Stevens, 67, of Marathon, and Joseph Miner, 68, or Cortland — travel around the state, educating people about the Civil War, they said.
The men, members of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery Civil War re-enacters, which is based in Marathon, said they can’t get enough of dressing up like soldiers and re-enacting the Civil War.
“There’s this charisma that comes over you,” Miner said. “History is alive.”
After the parade, people headed over to Lovell Field for hotdogs, sausage, hamburgers, chocolate bars, elephant ears, barbecue chicken and other delicious fair food.
They met up with old friends, reminiscing about old times and talking about recent trips or plans for the future. Not one person could be seen using a cell phone, iPod or Blackberry. Instead, all were basking in the warmth of good company.
Inside the civic building, home-grown fruit, vegetables and flowers were on display. Bob and Jo Swarm, both 71 and of Marathon, were collecting the 21 ribbons they had won for their produce, which included peppers, potatoes and Swiss chard.
“We raise all the vegetables we eat,” Bob Swarm said. “We can and freeze them.”
The Swarms moved to Marathon four years ago, they said. In that time they have been warmly embraced by the community, they said.
“God had to have led us up here because it’s just perfect,” he said.
At the other side of the building, women were sitting behind a table, putting together squares for a quilt. The quilt will comprise squares from residents throughout Marathon and surrounding areas, said Rena Janke, who came up with the idea.
Eventually the quilt will be raffled off and the proceeds will be split between the Peck Memorial Library, the Marathon Historical Society and next year’s Union Fair, she said.
Florence Blanchard, 85, of Cortland, was working on her own quilt at the other end of the table. Blanchard, who had three of her quilts on display, said she doesn’t know what she’d do without her hobby.
“I’m sure I’d go downhill fast if I didn’t have quilting,” she said.
White said she was happy with this year’s fair.
“It’s sort of like the best kept secret,” she said.


Marathon remembers late residents

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — The community remembered five residents Saturday who died this year.
All of them gave to the community, said Connie White, organizer of the 1890 Union Fair, which honored those five people.
White said it’s hard that they are no longer here, but at least people can celebrate their lives.
“I have this philosophy that you sort of rail against death,” she said. “You have to do something positive when you take a blow like that.”
The entire 1890 Union Fair was dedicated to Bill Robinson, who was also known as “Mr. Marathon.” Robinson, who was disabled, was everyone’s friend in the community, White said.
“I’ve had people say to me that when they moved to Marathon he was the first one to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Welcome here,’” she said.
The quilt show remembered Glendalee Hartman, who served as treasurer of the fair for the past 19 years.
White said fair organizers miss Hartman terribly — she invested herself in it for so many years. But they are grateful her son Jason has taken over as treasurer, she said. He has skills that will help the fair’s organizational committee, she said.
“He’s so high-tech,” White said. “He’s going to be quite good for us.”
The garden stock exhibit was dedicated to Monie Carpenter. Carpenter was a quiet man who was a wonderful gardener, White said. School buses turned right next to his garden, she said, and children knew him well.
Carpenter always brought vegetables from his garden to the Union Fair, White said.
“He wanted to educate,” she said.
The fair’s baked goods exhibit remembered Jack and Evelyn Owen, White said. The couple died within six weeks of one another, she said. Their wheat bread and big cabbages were always staple items at the fair.
White said although the community will always mourn the five community residents’ deaths, at least it remembered them Saturday, she said.
“This is just a way of celebrating their lives,” she said. “And making sure that everyone understands that it takes all of us to do things to have a community come in all shapes and sizes.”



Charges expected in case of seized cats

Staff Reporter

City police re-entered the home of Eugenia Cute Saturday to collect more evidence in an ongoing investigation of allegations that hundreds of cats were kept in the house and a nearby clinic in deplorable conditions.
Police said this morning that they went into the home and clinic on 7 Wheeler Ave. based on a warrant for a pending investigation, and to assist the Cortland County SPCA in catching any remaining cats.
Lt. Jon Gesin of the city police said the crews that entered the house were able to find one additional cat, bringing the total number of cats rescued from the home to 275.
Gesin added that the cat found Saturday was in the clinic behind the house and authorities believe there may be more in the home that they were unable to capture.
Gesin would not release information regarding what evidence was collected, but did say he expects criminal charges to be filed. He could not comment on what the charges will be or who will be charged.
Police originally raided the house on a warrant on Sept. 1 after a several-month investigation, stemming from numerous complaints from neighbors about smells coming from the residence. Hazardous material teams from the Cortland City Fire Department also investigated the property.
The investigation, which city Director of Administration and Finance Andy Damiano estimated could cost as much as $30,000, found some cats were in need of treatment for feline AIDS and leukemia.