On Monday, September 8 2014, at 6:30 p.m., local historian Mark Mastromarino will share his research on early American agricultural fairs, with a special focus on Derry’s institutions.
Londonderry’s town charter of 1722 granted permission to its settlers to hold semiannual fairs “for the selling and buying of goods, wares, merchandize, and all kinds of creatures.” Before the end of the century, however, disorder was the order of fair days, and town fathers moved to tone down the events in East Derry Village. But the Derry Fairs continued for another fifty years, becoming even more infamous for their “old horses, rum, rowdyism and gingerbread.” In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a new type of fair arose in Derry, Rockingham County, New England, and elsewhere in America. Sponsored by incorporated organizations devoted to agricultural reform and education, these agricultural fairs attempted to domesticate the wilder aspects of traditional market fairs with “innocent recreations and rational amusements.” As agriculture was gradually displaced in Derry, the last West Rockingham Fair was held, on its Franklin Street fairgrounds, in September 1948.
A historian and archivist by training, Mastromarino grew up in Londonderry and attended Pinkerton Academy and Boston College before earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in history at the College of William and Mary. After serving on the staffs of various documentary editing projects, including the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, and John Marshall, and serving as a production editor at Duke University Press, he returned to New England in 2012 and moved to Derry last year. This past April, he was appointed to the Derry Heritage Commission. He has published several articles from his doctoral research on the origins of the modern American agricultural fair in the early 1800s and is currently turning the dissertation into a publishable manuscript.
Don’t miss this entertaining local history program at Derry Public Library. For more information call 432-6140.