WATERTOWN — More than two dozen exhibitors will be featured Saturday at the fifth annual History and Genealogy Fair at the Jefferson County Historical Association.
There will be authors, community historians, genealogy experts, history podcast hosts and more at the fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the society’s headquarters at the Paddock mansion, 228 Washington St.
Thomas F. LaClair, president of the Jefferson County New York Genealogical Society and historian for the town of Clayton, was instrumental in creating the fair four years ago. He coordinates the annual event with Jefferson County Historical Society director Jordan Walker-Rodriquez.
Mr. LaClair didn’t envision the fair becoming so successful when it was created in 2015 when he was a historical society board member and president of the Jefferson County New York Genealogical Society.
“My initial thought was to hold a one-time countywide historical and genealogical event,” Mr. LaClair said. “It was important for me to know who my counterparts were in the towns and villages across the county so I was reaching out to them and inviting them to this new event. It was a win-win for me and for them.”
He also thought the event would be a good way for the counterparts to all get to know one another and to network.
“Likewise, the town and village historical and genealogical community was thrilled to have a new forum to network among like-minded individuals under one roof at one event,” he said. “The event was a hit right from the get-go.”
One key to the fair’s success has been the participation of so many town and village historians and historical societies, Mr. LaClair said.
Exhibitors have also looked forward to the event.
“If I had to persuade exhibitors, it would have never lasted this long,” Mr. LaClair said. “Not only do we have a full house of exhibitors, we have a good following from the public.”
A “healthy portion” of that public, Mr. LaClair said, has an interest in both history and genealogy.
“The history and genealogy fair is a low-cost event (donation at the door) and you can spend as much or as little time as you want,” he said. “The guest speakers draw a fair number of visitors — the speakers add credence to the event — a reason for people to come out and enjoy the overall experience.”
He added the fair also offers the chance to visit the society’s beautiful gardens, school house and log cabin.
“The visitors love to just come and mingle with others they have met at the fair,” Mr. LaClair said.
The Sept. 14 event will feature two guest presentations.
At 11 a.m., Aaron S. Hall will demonstrate and discuss his handmade vintage photography process.
At 1 p.m., Christina Knott, features editor at the Watertown Daily Times and Kelly Burdick, the paper’s archive librarian will talk about the Times’ “Second Look” history podcast, which premiered in 2018.
“We’ll detail two stories we’ve featured in our podcast,” Mrs. Burdick said.
Mrs. Burdick and Mrs. Knott will also give insight into the Times’ photo archive.
“There have been times we’ve started with a single photo and found entire stories once we start looking for clues,” Mrs. Burdick said. “In short, we hope to highlight where history is headed from the perspective of young, amateur historians.”
The society’s one-room school house and log cabin will also be open at the fair with hosts explaining the background of the buildings.