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32nd Brookhaven Country Fair highlights history
John Farkas and his son spend weekends traveling to cemeteries and landmarks all over New York to learn more about their ancestral lineage.
On Saturday, while touring the Longwood Estate in Ridge, Farkas and his girlfriend, Donna Marshall, found that another of his descendants may have lived at the estate at one point.
“I have a long list of descendants who fought in the French and Indian wars, the Revolutionary War, Civil War, both World Wars, even Korea,” said Farkas, 52, of Hauppauge. “I think my ancestor, Anne Marie Woodhull, is connected in some way to this estate.”
Farkas was among the hundreds to make it out to the estate for the 32nd Brookhaven Country Fair. The event continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Diana Schwindt, director of the Longwood Estate, has organized the event for the last decade.
“Our goal is to highlight civic associations, artisans and keep it true to a country fair, while at the same time educating the public on some of the rich history in Brookhaven,” she said.
The estate, owned by the Town of Brookhaven, is listed as a historic landmark. It was initially owned by William Tangier Smith and was built in 1790 and consisted of farmland, woods, pasture and a pond.
Town historian Barbara Russell estimates that 20,000 people would attend the two-day fair.
The Ed Travers Band entertained the crowds with country music, while re-enactors camped, cooked and educated families on World War II, the Revolutionary War and Civil War.
Paul Gasparo, a member of the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia, dressed as a Colonial craftsman, selling leather canteens and cups, jewelry and combs made of cow horn.
“I like figuring out how to make things that were crafted during Colonial times,” said Gasparo, 57, of Huntington. “I like to imagine going back to that time, as hard of a life it was.”
Vendors offered fresh lemonade, funnel cakes, German foods and even pickles. There was also Irish step dancing, a puppet show, pony rides and sporadic war re-enactments.
Stacey Hanratty brought her sons Michael, 6, and Jack, 4, to play games and learn some history.
“It’s more fun than the average fair. It’s a cultural change,” said Hanratty, 36, of East Northport. “We love the Old Bethpage Village Restoration and this is very similar. It’s inexpensive, and we love it because it’s so country.”
Sean Arena and his father Joseph, 52, began re-enacting as World War II soldiers because his grandfather served as a sniper at the West Germany border with East Germany in the mid-1950s.
“Although war seems glorified, it’s really not as wonderful as they make it out to be in the movies,” said Arena, 24, of Deer Park. “We like that people are interested in learning about the past just as much as we are.”
Photo: Among those doing re-enactment during the Brookhaven Country Fair was this group showing the dress and style of upper middle class women during the Civil War. They are, from left, Christine Zukowski, 48, of Bayville>, Angela Laino, 45, of Williston Park, and Laura Zukowski, 27, of Bayville. (Sept. 8, 2012)