The laughter of children running about the Thomas Paine Cottage Colonial Fair could be heard from far away as families gathered to experience Paine’s era and have some fun along the way.
In spite of the cloudy skies, children and adults traveled from each exhibit to the next, paying with tickets sold to benefit the Paine Cottage.
Many exhibits appeared for the first time, which were popular with younger Paine appreciators, such as bracelet making with the Girl Scout troops of New Rochelle and fire truck tours provided by the New Rochelle Fire Department.
Old favorites were also present, including the much loved 19th-century school marm teaching in the one-roomed schoolhouse, along with Colonial soldier-re-enactors camped out to recruit young and eager soldiers for their army.
Children eagerly jumped out of their wooden desks for a chance to win the school marm’s spelling bee, and practiced their musket firing techniques for hours on end.
However, this will be the final year the annual fair will be appearing at the Paine Cottage Museum.
“It’s just too much to produce, with too little funds and physical help,” said director and organizer John Wright. “The public doesn’t come out like they used to.”
Due to the economy, Wright has also been forced to greatly reduce the hours that museum is open. In addition, Grandma’s Pies, a major sponsor that donated hundreds of pies to be sold at the fair in years past has gone out of business.
“We are the destination for Paine-minded people across the country and the world, so it’s unfortunate to have to cut back,” he said.
Yet the event will not be lost entirely. Wright said the museum plans to create a much smaller and streamlined event for the spring that will have a more historically oriented approach without the sole intent to raise money.
Despite the impending termination of the fair, many visitors took advantage of the day and were able to create fun-filled memories.
New Rochelle resident Liz Tzetzo said she was excited to discover the event while she was looking up the New Rochelle ArtsFest.
“We’ve always wanted to visit the Paine Cottage Museum and this was the perfect time to bring our 7-year-old daughter,” she said.
Tzetzo looked on as her daughter sat while a butterfly was painted on her cheek.
“This is a really great event, you know? It’s so good for kids—she definitely loves it,” Tzetzo said, as her daughter beamed with excitement.