Service of Small-Town America

August 31st, 2023

Categories: Ceremony, County Fair, Hero, Small Towns

My sister, Elizabeth Baecher, welcoming the French Deputy Consul General and other guests to the ceremony in honor of the 125-year-old monument.
Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, NY

I’m a native of Manhattan with city sidewalks in my veins. For years I considered that anyone who settled in a place with a few blades of grass lived in the country. Then we bought a house in upstate New York in deep dish country in a town with, I suspect, more beavers and deer than people [1,500 of the latter].

I’ve been gone long enough to once again be charmed by small-town events and to acknowledge the best of life there. Last weekend I attended a ceremony in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette in Fishkill, NY, population of around 2,100. It was the 125th anniversary of a monument to him in the Rombout Rural Cemetery on Rte. 52.

Turned out that Lafayette convalesced for a month in the Brinckerhoff House up the road from the cemetery. In 1898 the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a monument to him, hence the celebration.

Each of the speakers were interesting, [and brief], and many of the attendees were friendly. Damien Laban, French Deputy Consul General in New York, was the special guest and my sister, Elizabeth Baecher, read the welcome remarks in French. In addition, there was the Presentation and Retiring of the Colors by the Town of Fishkill Police Cadets Color Guard and taps played during the laying of the wreath.

The day didn’t end there. After a lovely brunch as guests of the Brinckerhoff House, now an inn, we visited the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, N.Y. in its 177th year. It was my first visit [although for 25 years I lived 40 minutes away from the fairgrounds and attended many a craft fair there]. I was taken aback by the thousands of attendees on the last day of the weeklong event and especially enjoyed the exhibit of vintage farm equipment still in working order and chugging away. We saw the old machines that turned stones to gravel, removed corn from cobs, sawed medium to giant tree limbs or pumped water. We enjoyed the fiddler, banjo player and country singer too—and so much more.

I’m a New York city person through and through but there is something civilized and charming about small-town America and its traditions, don’t you think? Are there local traditions that you enjoy where you live or visit?

Dutchess County Fair

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12 Responses to “Service of Small-Town America”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: About 30 years ago I spent 2 consecutive summer vacations on a tiny (just 50 homes), no-cars island off the coast of Portland, Maine. Every July 4th there was a parade where all the kids, and some adults, dressed in costume. Very “all American” and as opposite from NYC as you could get.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    The fire engine shined and spiffy was the centerpiece of many a parade in the little towns I visited or lived in. Lots of little American flag waving. I always loved the scene.

  3. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Even better than the July 4th parade was fact that we celebrated my then 3 & 4yo nephew’s BD 2 days earlier. We invited every kid on the island even though we knew no one. Was so cute to see kids marching up the hill en route to the party at stroke of noon. We would play outdoor games, had prizes, etc. So much fun, and for the kids it was THE social event of the summer.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    Great photos too, I bet!

  5. Edward Baecher Said:

    Edward on Facebook: Mom did a terrific job with the speech!!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Edward,

    She did!

  7. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: Cool! I can’t wait to hear.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    Clam shacks feasts in summer are always a delight. Salmon and peas on the fourth of July in a restaurant once an old house make for a charming Fourth of July.

    I especially enjoy the rites of autumn. Going to see the changing of the leaves, apple and pumpkin picking, eating the goodies made for the season including apple cider always delight me. I don’t know if these are as appealing to everyone as to New Englanders.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Every community, regardless of size, has a face. Some are prettier than others. Charm? I’m a small-town resident, so what do I know?

  10. David Reich Said:

    We used to go to the Topsham (ME) Fair, a real country fair near where our daughter lived. They had 4A’s livestock judging, pig races, ox pulls, bull riding. And lots of junk food. Our grandkids loved it.

    But many larger communities have events with a small-town feel. In Mount Vernon NY, where I live, they have an annual July 4th event at the historic St. Paul’s Church, a national; landmark where newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger won a trial that led to the amendment for Freedom of the Press. Every year, a local citizen is picked to read the Declaration of Independence. I also remember, as a kid, a church in the neighborhood had an Italian Festival — great music, dancing in the streets, and greasy food – zepoli, heroes.

    And many neighborhoods in NY City have local events — not the canned street fairs, but truly local events.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    One year I attended the San Genaro fair in Manhattan with a family that met there from all over the NY Metro area and ate up a storm every year. I had such fun. And who did I meet? My nephew who came down from Dutchess County! Neither of us knew that the other was planning to go!

  12. Eileen Dover Said:

    I enjoy the summertime tradition of getting a free slurpy from 7-Eleven on July 11 every year!

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