Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bovina Town Picnics - Past & Present, Part II

On May 31 I posted Part I of my two part history of Bovina Town Picnics - and here is part II.

After a 28 year hiatus, caused in part by the Great Depression and World War II, Bovina held an Old Home Day celebration on August 18, 1956, with Charles McIntosh’s flat as the venue. The day included a parade, picnic dinner and a greased pole. Parade participants included the Bovina Fire Department, a team of chestnut horses driven by Ferris Todd, and the Bovina Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary. A number of organizations sponsored floats including the United Presbyterian Church, the Lake Delaware Home Bureau, the Bovina 4-H Happy Hearts, the Bovina Home Bureau, and the Bovina Recreation Club. Other parade participants included a two wheeled decorated cart, propelled by Margaret Hilson and Simone Duphilly, and ridden in by Nancy, John, and Christine Hilson and Shirley Hammond. The prizes were given by Assemblyman Edwyn Mason, who represented the judges. Mrs. Clarence Burns was general chairman of the event.

Eight years later, Bovina held another Old Home Day on September 5, 1964. There were floats sponsored by the 4-H, the Ski Club, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary, among others. Prizes were awarded for the prettiest and most original. The parade was followed by a picnic, then games and stunts, including climbing a greased pole and catching a greased pig. There was the firemen’s chicken barbecue, at which over 400 were served. This was the last town picnic to be called Old Home Day -- this also was the first Bovina town picnic that I clearly remember. I remember being a bit miffed that out of my whole family, I was the only one with no role in the day. Dad was marching with the firemen while Mom and my two sisters were on floats.

On August 29, 1970, Bovina celebrated its 150th birthday – its Sesquicentennial – in style. It was a full day, starting with a parade that had thirty-eight units, including bands, organizations and floats. Awards were given in a number of categories, including Jack and June Burns for the most humorous float (picture at left, with Jack and June, Judy Tator behind them, and Bob Burns and his daughter Amy to their left). Other entries included a pleasure buggy driven by John Hilson wearing his great grandfather, T.C. Strangeway’s wedding clothes. The events of the day attracted Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr, a candidate for Congress of the newly created 28th district. One of my big memories of this day was selling a copy of the Bovina Town History to the congressional candidate. After a picnic lunch, exhibits, demonstrations and sporting events were held on McIntosh flats. Demonstrations included George Johnston running a thrashing machine and Ron Russell demonstrating a number of old gasoline engines. Bovina women worked on two quilts. The day ended with an evening dance.

On July 24, 1976, Bovina, like many other communities in the United States, took its part in the Nation’s Bicentennial celebrations. Events included a parade, baking and costume contest, a chicken barbecue, a women’s tug-of-war and a tractor pull. Awards for floats included for the prettiest to June Burns, for most authentic to Cecil and Isabel Russell (picture at the right) and for most original to the South Kortright Calf club. Costume winners included Isabel Russell, Lauren Monroe, Bonnie Bray and Robin Hardenburg. Tractor pull winners included Scott Parsons, Bobby Hewitt, Doug Gregory, and Charlie LaFever. The day ended with a round and square dance at the newly built fire hall. Bovina continued to have various picnics and events through the 70s and 80s.

In 1995, Bovina celebrated its 175th Birthday with a birthday party on February 25, the actually anniversary. The town had a parade and picnic on August 5, preceded the evening before by a dance to benefit the Bovina Emergency Squad. The parade featured a number of family floats, including Hilsons, Monroes and McIntoshes, as well as trucks from Tony Gabriele and LaFever Excavating. Events also included a picnic and an all day quilt show and old photo display at the community hall. A special anniversary cancellation stamp took place at the Bovina Library. The day’s activities attracted around 1000 people.

The new millennium saw renewed interest in an annual town picnic, tied to the community yard sale. Usually held the third Saturday of July, 2009 will be no exception. The weekend will kick off on Friday night, the 17th, with two shows of "The Brushland Melodrama" at 7 and 9 pm, featuring local talent. Events on Saturday will start at 9, with demonstrations by the Bovina Fire Department at the fire house, a book sale to benefit the Bovina Public Library and the town wide yard sale, sponsored by the Bovina Historical Society. The parade will commence at 4 pm, followed by the town picnic and my talk about past town picnics at 7. It'll be a full day to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Bovina!




    Look up Susan's blog for a report and photos of the baseball game on Bovina Day. (The game was terrific.)

  2. Thanks much. Great pics. Especially of the Bovina ball.