Armada Fair exhibits highlight area history – The Voice

Special displays of antiques or antique-style exhibits highlighting area history are among the ways the Armada Fair is marking its 150th anniversary, a history that includes a wedding dress with special significance for New Baltimore.

“Since this is the Armada Agricultural Society’s 150th year celebration, we have added a couple of extra departments to our Fair Book,” Armada Fair Board member Mary Ebert said.

The 150th Armada Fair kicked off Aug. 15 and runs through Aug. 21. For more information, call 586-784-5488 or visit

Ebert said some new display departments became available this year, including two focused on the sesquicentennial: One for youth and the other for open classes.

“They are focused on the items that were made during the late 1800s and were popular during that time,” Ebert said.

The fair will also have displays of antiques or vintage articles from before 1922 or vintage before 1982 in Department 55.

Richmond resident Bernadette Mckenzie is one of the fair participants who planned to enter items in Department 55, Division 1. She entered a 1951 wedding dress with a history related to some of those who made their historical mark on New Baltimore: The Skinners.

“Elmer and Grace ‘Sharkey’ Skinner were instrumental in the creation of the first New Baltimore library as well as authors of ‘History Stories of New Baltimore,’” New Baltimore Historical Society President Vince Nestico said.

Their son Leigh Skinner married in 1951, and by about 2008 was ready to sell the wedding dress of his late wife Ruth, who died in 2007, Mckenzie said. Mckenzie’s husband Daniel was the buyer, snapping up the dress along with Ruth Skinner’s Precious Moments statues.

Mckenzie said she planned to enter the original box of the dress, the dress itself, some photos and the headpiece to match the dress in the fair. Mckenzie said the dress is made of cream-colored velour with a 27-inch waist.

“When you actually look at the dress, it is amazing anybody could even fit into this dress,” Mckenzie said.

Susan Strauch, the daughter of Leigh and Ruth Skinner, said her mother was a nurse and her father held several different jobs during his professional career, ranging from owning a dry-cleaning business to working in real estate to working as a school custodian and for the New Baltimore water department.

“My grandpa was a justice of the peace for a while. Grandma was a school teacher; she taught at the Atwood School,” Strauch said.

Ebert said the fair has a history of displaying antique and vintage wedding apparel.

“We had two wedding dresses last year from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The staff did set an information note out with the dresses because they were so special,” Ebert said.

Open youth sesquicentennial exhibits classes available exclusively this year include Division 1, for silhouettes circa the late 1800; Division 2, for decorated hats reflecting the styles of the late 1800s; Division 3, for decorated purses made of any material, reflecting the styles and materials of the late 1800s, and Division 4, for a dress or child’s clothing made to reflect late 1800s styles. Judging was set for Aug. 12.

Open youth sesquicentennial classes exhibits for Divisions 5-6 were set to be judged Aug. 14. Division 5 is for a decorated cookie highlighting the fair’s 150th anniversary, and Division 6 is for a decorated cake highlighting the anniversary. Division 7 is for best of show.

The Fair Book also lists Department 150 as the sesquicentennial exhibits classes, designed exclusively for this year to celebrate the fair’s 150th anniversary.


Nicole Tuttle is a freelance reporter for MediaNews Group.