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Fredonia to go back in time

SPOTLIGHT: History Days

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia History Days runs Friday and Saturday, July 12-13.

Fredonia is a village that revels in its history. It’s proud of its Victorian “painted lady” homes in its residential areas and it cherishes classic structures downtown, such as the Village Hall and Opera House, the White Inn, the Barker Library, several churches and Barker Common’s twin fountains.

It’s a perfect setting for a festival that celebrates historical things: Fredonia History Days 2019, on Friday and Saturday in Barker Common.

The festivities kick off Friday with a classic car and motorcycle show from 6 to 9 p.m., with Midnight Recovery playing in the gazebo. “The bike portion of the show is new this year, so look for a great variety of motorcycles to be parked downtown along with the already well attended classic car show,” stated Todd Langworthy, chairman of History Days, in a press release.

Saturday has a full schedule of events beginning at 10 a.m., including historical exhibits, craft and food vendors and activities for children.

New this year is an “Antiques Village” in Barker Common East with a roster of antique dealers from all over Western New York set to show off, and sell, their items. Another new addition is the Lakeshore Humane Society’s information booth and fundraiser.

There is also a new selfie scavenger hunt for children. Contestants who successfully take selfie pictures in front of historical monuments and sites in the Village of Fredonia will qualify for a drawing for prizes. Contestants will be divided into two age groups: age 11 and under, and age 12 and over. Qualified selfie photos of monuments must show the face of the contestant with the lettering of the monument clearly visible in the background. Contestants must enter their selfies at the William Hart Gas Well exhibit at the Fredonia History Days History Tent on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Completed entries will be exchanged for a raffle ticket to be entered for a prize basket. The prize drawings will be held at 3 p.m. at the History Tent and contestants must be present to win.

The list of six monuments and historic sites for ages 11 and under is: the Alonzo Cushing monument on East Main in front of Pioneer Cemetery, the William Cushing monument on Church Street in front of Village Hall, the First Gas Well monument at 85 West Main, Fredonia Grange #1 on West Main, the Esther McNeil (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) Drinking Fountain in Barker Common, the horse-drawn carriage stepping stone and hitching post in front of the White Inn on White Street.

The list for ages 12 and over includes the six monuments and historic sites for ages 11 and under PLUS the following six monuments and historic sites: a municipal building designed by Fredonia architect and civil war veteran Enoch Curtis; an academic building designed by international architect I. M. Pei; the monument dedicated to a famous Fredonia geologist; the Forest Hill Cemetery grave marker for the victims of a tragic 1900 fire; the circle of maple trees at the formation of Fredonia parades; and the house on Central Avenue owned by a 19th century Fredonia physician, state Assemblyman and patent medicine producer whose name is also on a Fredonia Fire Department wagon on display at the Fire Hall.

Also Saturday, there are guided trolley tours led by Langworthy, who is also the Pomfret town historian. Those are set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

In the evening, Langworthy will also be portraying local Medal of Honor recipient Alonzo Cushing, a Civil War soldier killed helping to defend the Union line against the Confederate “Pickett’s Charge” on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The “Guided Candlelight Walking Tour of Fredonia with Alonzo Cushing” is at 9:30 p.m. Tickets for both events are limited in supply and may be purchased on the Festivals Fredonia website at www.festivalsfredonia.org/fredonia-history-days/.

Live entertainment is planned for Saturday in the Gazebo, beginning with local favorite Sean Patrick McGraw from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by Sunset Bluegrass from 1-4 p.m. and The Drama Kings from 4:30-7:30 p.m. For the cinematically inclined, Fredonia Opera House is showing “Echo in the Canyon” at 7:30 p.m.

A short presentation at 12:15 p.m. Saturday in the gazebo will congratulate Fredonia American Legion Memorial Post #59 on its 100th anniversary in the village.

On both Friday and Saturday, JJ’s Backyard Barbecue will sell barbecue chicken and pulled pork dinners.

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