Beginning 32 years ago, the 18th century land that houses the Rock Hall mansion has played host to a country fair that reaches into the nation’s history past and offers contemporary entertainment as well.
The Rock Hall Country Fair will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds that was once home to the Martin family, and then later the original Hewlett family. Rock Hall was at one time a 600-acre working farm in Lawrence and is now a 3-acre museum owned and operated by the Town of Hempstead, at 199 Broadway in Lawrence that features tours, activities and the annual country fair.
Historians dressed in the clothes of the day show how colonial-era tools were used, a harvest market, craft vendors, farm animal, pony rides (there is a fee), a children’s craft area, a pumpkin patch where pumpkins can be painted, a make a scarecrow area, antique cars, food for purchase and a show, are all part of the fair. Admission is free and so is the parking.
“Let Rock Hall fill your weekend with activities, country music and good-old fashioned family fun,” Douglas Sheen wrote in a letter sent to sponsors and potential supporters of the museum. Sheen is president of Friends of Rock Hall. The group supports the museum and helps to present educationally enriching programs.
“The Great American Vaudeville Show,” a production of St. George Living History Productions of Medford will be performed at 1, 2:15 and 3:30 p.m. each day of the fair. The company is run by Sal St. George and his wife, Mary.
Trying not to give the show away, St. George said that when he was in college “many, many moons ago,” he met Bud Abbott of Abbot and Costello fame. He said he also met Joe Besser, an actor and comedian who was briefly part of the Three Stooges comedy team, the Andrew Sisters and many of their contemporaries.
“I always had an affinity for vaudeville, Abbot and Costello and a slew of others,” St. George said. “We are bringing good, wholesome family entertainment. Singing, dancing, toe-tapping music and knee-slapping comedy. Vaudeville was high energy.”
St. George said that he saw Bob Hope at the Westbury Music Fair, when the comedian was 80, and he did a salute to the 50 state as his finale. It’s routine that the seven people on and off stage from the production team will replicate. “We’re finding that young people are enjoying these shows just as much as their parents and grandparents,” St. George said.
The special exhibition “Trinkets Treasure and Trade” on display through Dec. 31 can also be seen. All fair proceeds benefit the Friends of Rock Hall.
“The Town of Hempstead Country Fair at Rock Hall offers fun and educational programs for children, families and people of all ages,” Supervisor Anthony Santino said in a news release. “I invite all residents to come on down and enjoy the pumpkin patches, animal farm, historic exhibits and much more.”