It was in 1956 that the Chatham Board of Education seriously considered the Chatham Fairgrounds as a likely site for a new elementary school building. The Fair Board lost no time addressing the matter and voted 12-0: “WE ARE NOT FOR SALE.”
The late Govern Nelson A. Rockefeller was the Fair’s distinguished quest and speaker on Labor Day, in 1962. Governor Rockefeller returned to The Columbia County Fair in 1970 this time riding onto the Fairgrounds in full fire manic regalia, aboard Ghent Volunteer Fire Company’s antique pumper.
1966 the Fair’s secretary, J. Vinent Hartigan, was elected president of the New York Association of Agricultural Fairs, and became the second man from Chatham to be so honored, Congressman Lewis K. Rockefeller was the first. Philip D. Mickle, served the state association on 1980 and The Columbia County Fair is being honored to have director Steven Berninger elected to serve in 2012.
The new administration Building, which cost the Society $17,000.00 was put into use shortly before Fairtime in 1966.
The same year twenty-three acres of vacant land were purchased from Marcus S. Wood of Chatham, at the south end of the Fairgrounds, for $12,000.00. This brought the total acreage to its present 55 and opened the way for a second admission gate for the grounds.
Almost in desperation in was decided to open the Fair in 1969 on Thursday afternoon and thereby attempt to cope with the free preview that had taken over Thursday night. Over the preceding years this free Thursday night had developed crowds that halted exhibited setup, clogged authorized traffic and created chaos for the Fair management.
In 1970 a metal structure was erected to be used primarily for food concessions, including the Fair’s main restaurant “The Tower Club”which is presently being run by The Spencertown Church .
A contract was awarded in 1978 for the development of a trailer park at the South end of the Fairgrounds. The entire project which created 32 spaces, accommodated with water, electricity and sewage disposal, cost to the Society $32,000, a price that included fencing and roadways.
And so, the trials and tribulations, the failures and the successes, and always the forward and upward movement of the Columbia County Fair and Agricultural Society, have been chronicled. Some things may have given been missed, too much consideration may have been given to others, but at least an effort has been made to bring to light the facts that up to now have been locked up in the several musty, dust covered Minutes books carefully stored in the Society’s archives.
This information was researched and written by The Society’s 25th Secretary, Clifford Hodge, in 1984