It stood for nearly a century on the Plympton & Wyoming Agricultural Fair Grounds, Main street west, Wyoming. It was dubbed ‘The Crystal Palace’. In July 1993 it was demolished, and preparations have been made for the construction of a new one on the same site. Members and friends of the society helped me recall some of the wonderful memories of events held within the walls of the former Crystal Palace. Until 1973 it was the only building on the grounds. It served as a fair office to take entries, and a display room. Beautiful hand made quilts were hung high, always with a concern when it rained because we could see daylight if we looked toward the roof.
All livestock was shown outside, but after 1973 swine, sheep, goats and pets were shown in the original building. Fair night dances were crowded and concerts were held in the present Lions Hall the same night. Myrtle MacIntosh Armstrong of London and formally of Wyoming, often brought a troupe of entertainers from London, a very special night for people of the community.
4H Club Swine Auctions were held in the building following Fair competitions. In the later years the building was used for Winter storage. Perhaps one of the most memorable events held in the Crystal Palace were The St. Andrew’s Suppers as Annual event for the Ladies Aid of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, quoting from a booklet prepared for St. Andrew’s 100th Anniversary.
By 1929 it was still an annual event for the Ladies Aid to sponsor a St. Andrew’s Supper, now in the Agricultural Hall. It was so well reported in the Petrolia Topic that we wish to quote it.
“Stoves were placed at intervals along the walls on each side, the floors covered with sawdust. Seats were arranged for 600 people. Promptly at 6:30 the march of the haggis was started – 25 young ladies bearing platters of the beloved Scottish dish, followed by 19 young men of the church, marched between the tables to the skirl of the bagpipes.
In talking with Grace and Duncan Gordon Jr. I learned that Duncan’s father, Duncan Gordon Sr. and Jim Smith were in charge of finding the stoves using a Model A Ford and a homemade trailer for hauling. Tables and chairs were borrowed from local churches. Remembering dinner prices at $0.75 a plate and a noon lunch the following day for $0.15. The above price included a concert, entertainment coming from Toronto or London by train for the same. All food, water, wood, dishes & cutlery was brought to the building. Mae Gillatly reports individual butter tarts were made as well by Maggie Gillatly.
Other serving meals in a corner at Fair time were Bear Creek Women’s Institute. Mrs. Louise Smith a member of the W. I. remembers selling ice cream cones on fair day. This we seldom see today.
Local ice carnivals were popular with a central orchestra two names remembered were Tom McKenna on Drums and Mac Macintosh Horn, both late of Wyoming. Tom McKenna a former Reeve. Late W.S Steadman assisted flooding and looking after the ice for skating, using water from a well at the South West rear of the building. Hockey was played as well. Reports are Eaton’s catalogue supported by rubber jar rings made excellent ankle and knee pads. It didn’t cost as much to outfit a hockey player those days, but they report if you were boarded you knew it.
The Wyoming Rifle Club formed in the early 1940’s by the late Sid Thompson a C.N.R agent held its target practice in the building and also hosted shooting meets there, and many Wyoming members became excellent marksmen, such as Jim, Merle Scott, Ed, Carrie Scott, Sid & Evelyn Thompson, Marie Barnes. Merle Scott a P. & W. member won 3 expert class awards, topping everything in 1947 Expert Shield award of the Dominion Marksmen with a perfect score of 6,000. Merle was the only Wyoming member to ever win this perfect award, a gold leaf.
Murray Campbell stated during a Good Friday storm the building shifted and damaged the South end. When the cement floor was laid – Tom Steadman told me they used Lyle Syers Army truck to straighten the building which was supported by telephone poles and 25 feet of the weakened South end was removed. Work bees were divided by roads. P. & E. Townline, 2nd line etc.
Late Walter Swan laid the cement floor while Frank Dewar trowled and Duncan Gordon & Tom Steadman wheeled much of the gravel and cement, this took place in the 40’s. In 1952 Floyd Lashley then minister of Ontario Agriculture & Food attended the dedication of the gate posts.
Two important events took place in 1962. Wyoming was privileged to turn on the water and the opening ceremonies were held in the Crystal Palace. Premier John Roberts was in attendance. Burns Masonic Lodge celebrated a hundred years of Masonry and the celebrations were held there. Ken Gray a member of the P. & W. Society was Reeve of the Village and Worshipful Master of Burns Lodge that year. The cement floor remains for the approximate 50×108 building to be erected – will this new building hold as many interesting events? We hope so.
In 2016 our Agricultural Society will celebrate its 170th year. If a reader has any History to add we would appreciate hearing from you. These celebrations must be dedicated to the many past and present volunteers of the P. & W. Society.