Notes from the CAMP Booth at the 2015 Cattaraugus County Fair #3

This 2015 Cattaraugus County Fair note comes from our CAMP Chairman who attended the CAMP fair booth every day from August 3rd to August 9th, 2015:

“I was at the CAMP Exhibit/informational table everyday of the 2015 Cattaraugus County Fair, Aug. 3-9. Information about CAMP’S preservation and restoration efforts for the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building, located at the corner of Court and 7th streets in the Village of Little Valley, NY was made available to Fair goers from 10 am to 10 pm each day of the Fair. The following CAMPERS worked the booth at different times during the Fair: Tom Stetz, Mark & Annette Dunkelman, Juanita & Jim Ried, Cyndy Whited, Warren Patterson, John Stengel, Nancy Bargar, Gretchen Gaede, Clark Casler, Gail Bellamy, Rosemary Carvella, Deb Everts, Doug Wilson, and Tom & Johnathan Place.

CAMPERS handed out brochures and talked to Fair goers about the History and present status of the endangered Civil War Memorial and the County’s plans for its demolition. I talked with many Cattaraugus County residents as well as many people from other counties, states and even Canada who were at the Fair spending their money in Cattaraugus County. Most were unaware of the County’s plans for demolition of the Memorial building and almost everyone expressed disbelief that the County was considering demolition and asked WHY. I had no answer for their WHY and most stated that our history needs to be preserved. Almost 700 people signed petition sheets in favor of Cattaraugus County preserving the Memorial.

Fair goers offered suggestions for future use of the Memorial Complex Area, volunteered their help in areas that they were experienced and made monetary donations towards CAMP’S efforts.

When people found out that the Memorial was just 2 blocks from the Fairgrounds, many asked about touring the Memorial. I had to tell them that the Memorial was not open to the public at this time. I then asked them if they would return to Little Valley to visit a restored Memorial in the future and most replied YES. This was the response from most people even beyond Cattaraugus County, meaning people outside of Cattaraugus County would be willing to spend time and money in Cattaraugus County with a visit to a preserved Civil War Memorial in Little Valley. I call that tourism and economic development.

My best experiences of the Fair came one afternoon when a young girl about 13 stopped by and talked for about 1/2 hour. She was from Fairport, NY and was visiting her grandparents who live in Little Valley, as she does every summer at Fair time. She talked, acted and dressed much older than 13 and expressed her interest in history and preserving it, especially that connected to the Civil War time period. She said she was “into the fashion of that time period” and enjoyed making period clothes and was trying to connect with a “living history group” to live her passion. Talking to her made my day and I did not think anyone could top her enthusiasm for history but I was wrong. About an hour later, two young cousins about the age of 10 stopped by, one girl and one boy. They leaned on the table with their elbows and started firing questions at me about the exhibit and why I was there. I couldn’t answer their questions before they asked several more and they were all excellent questions and questions I did not expect from such young kids. They both lived in Little Valley and knew where the Memorial was located and walk by it many times but really did not know anything about it. Between questions they were kidding with each other and having a great day. When they ran out of questions, they both reached into their pockets and emptied them onto the table and then each picked up a dollar and started to put them into the donation chest. I told them they did not have to make a donation but could just sign our support petition. They both said NO, stuffed their dollars into the chest, signed the petition and said history is important, good luck and ran off. I hope there are more kids like these three, we just have to reach them. They made my FAIR WEEK.

Tom Stetz, Allegany, NY “