FARMINGTON CORNER

A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 152

Horseplay in Dumontskiís

Lured by beautiful weather, a record crowd of 6,000 people swarmed through downtown Farmington on Aug. 26, for the 8th Annual Hay Day.

How do they know the crowd was 6,000 strong? Foster Daily Democrat said so. How did Foster's know? They asked the Rochester Courier, that fountainhead of information, and the Courier plucked a figure out of the air, but who cares, anyway? The point is that bunches of people showed up and stayed all day. None of the "I came, I saw, I moved to Concord," stuff.

The dog gymkhana, a favorite with spectators if not canines, got underway at 10 a.m., the same time as the horseshoe tournament - which luckily turned out fine as no dog tried to enter both events. Don't scoff. On Farmington Hay Day, anything may happen. (See below)

After knocking down most of the obstacles, balking at the wooden bridge, and getting spooked witless by a cardboard cat for fifth successive year, Chrissy owned by James Spear, won his fifth successive Cowardly Cur award. Family honor was salvaged by young Amanda Spear taking first place with her pet, Rambo.

Meanwhile, under Manny Krasner's spreading chestnut trees, the Henry Wilson Horseshoe Tournament was carried off by Middleton's Bobby Lapierre, after some strong competition in the final from Carl Varland of New Durham.

While most of Main Street and Central streets were roped off to traffic, it was still possible for enterprising pedestrians to get squished by a variety of conveyances. There was Davidson's Puddledock Express chugging through the Square stowed with sight-seeing passengers, and the fire truck giving rides, and Beth Littlefield's buggy doing its New York Central Park thing, and the ambulance cruising proudly up and down.

The new ambulance. The shiny, one-day-old, just-off-the-production line, not-a-blood-stain-on-it-yet, $60,000 ambulance with a retinue of blue-suited courtiers.

"No," said the chief courtier to a wag from the press, "If we fill it with patients, the front wheels don't rise off the ground," unlike its red-colored buddy in the next bay of the safety building.

The theme of the day was shoes or maybe feet, and in this vein, a little Miss Footstep and Young Mr. Footstep contest was held. The winners in the various age and sex categories included Jeremy Randall as a Shoemaker and Diane Cheong as a Tap Dancer.

Buster Brown's Battle got underway on the stroke of 12:25, and was more bizarre than brutal. Where else but Farmington could you see a highly successful businessman dressed in turn-of-the-century clothes, kneeling in the middle of Main Street feeding Alpo to a fluffy toy dog? The sharpest competitor, however, proved to be another Spear (Alan), who, by intuition, luck or skullduggery, snatched the correct rolled-up newspaper and victory from under the noses of half a dozen other Buster Browns.

A grubby sneaker contest was next on the official program, and there were certainly winners here too, but later no one could remember their names.

Such thoughts were scattered by the arrival in town, in a vintage car and a hail of gunfire, of the Wild Bunch, a rootin' tootin' band of cowpokes deputised by a mean-looking sheriff to guard a bevy of female saloon persons in gaudy dresses. Apparantly the "bad guys" were hot on their trail, so with guns blazing, the whole posse decided to hole up in Dumontskees Lounge.

A room full of Dumontskees regulars were caught by surprise. One minute they were enjoying tranquil Buds, and the next an invasion of lead-slinging cowboys crowded in, pushing the dancing girls ahead of them.

"Don't worry, we're firing blanks," said the sheriff, but when a four-foot fluorescent light blew up, and then a section of roof got shot away, the Bud-drinkers looked dubious.

The powder had barely drifted down from the lighting tube, when a cry went up that the "bad guys" had arrived. Increased gunfire. Then two outlaws urged their horses up the steps from Main Street and clopped into the bar, causing a pool game to be rapidly abandoned, a score of drinkers to tightly grip their beer cans, and Ronnie Dumont to utter the understatement of the year, "This is mad."

It was, but it got madder.

The riders hauled saloon girls up behind them, intending to canter out of the bar but the thunder of gunfire startled one horse, and it lost its footing courtesy of the powder from the fluorescent light tube. The wild-eyed animal crashed onto the floor, (and almost through to the cellar), with flailing of hooves. A lady in a purple outfit on the mare's back hurtled through the air, and landed smack dab on the knee of an old-timer sitting at a table. The look of delight, which spontaneously spread across his ancient face, was banished by a sharp dig in the ribs from an elderly female companion seated next to him.

While Courier reporters dove for cover, abandoning the photographic scoop of the decade, the hoof-lashing steed struggled to its feet, uninjured, and was remounted by the outlaw and a different, braver dancing girl. Off the Wild Bunch went, shootin' and hollerin' onto Main Street again, leaving bug-eyed survivors to order strong drink for medicinal purposes.

At the other end of town, the sheaf toss got underway, with defending champion Big Dan Conway hot favorite to pitchfork the sack of hay higher than other challengers yet again. He did just that, but not without surprisingly strong competition from Dan Walls of Milton.

The Scouts' cubmobile race was won by nine-year-old Tim Easson, with Paul Carrier, also nine, coming in second, and Chris Duquette, 11, snatching third place.

Then thousands of eyes were fixed on the bed race down Main Street, in which there were nine teams representing all walks of Farmington life - bank tellers, telephone workers, Baptists, insurance salesmen, horseshoe players, bar patrons and folks from a nursing home.

The Baptists set a hot pace by completing the task-studded course in a time of two minute 45 seconds, thus urging Peg's Keg to hurtle around a corner at such a reckless pace that their bed shot up into a section of the crowd. Down came the spotlessly new ambulance, with cynics shouting, "If anyone's bleeding, they wont take 'em."

Fortunately, the only injury was to young girl from Union, who bravely shrugged off medical help for a grazed knee.

That deviation from the route cost Peg's Keg men dearly, and they suffered the humiliation of being beaten, not only by the Baptist Union Telephone, and M & M Horseshoe Leaguers, but by Pegís Keg Women.

The evening climax, in keeping with the theme of the day, was a performance by Farmingtonís own rock íní rollers, The Footsteps. Plus bottle rockets. Fosterís estimated the crowd to be 2,500 strong, a wild guess that quickly degenerated into a statistic.

September 4, 1989

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