Harmony Grange Agricultural Fair: Farm fresh food, history and fun

Harmony Grange No. 92 has held events at its building at 2 Shelton Road since 1933.

Harmony Grange members met at Monroe Congregational Church when the local chapter was established in 1889, before Ben Hurd donated its current facility in 1933. The white building with a pitched roof can be seen near the traffic circle on Shelton Road, and is accessed from Hurd Avenue.

Harmony Grange’s annual Agricultural Fair, to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 24, will raise money for the maintenance of this historic building.

“The Grange was organized after the Civil War to educate and give farmers a meeting place, and to lobby legislators for farmers, who made up 90 percent of the population at the time,” said Ronald Bunovsky, president of Harmony Grange No. 92.

Little Things Farm will bring its pigs to Saturday’s Agricultural Fair at Harmony Grange. Contributed

Bunovsky said the Grange was instrumental in the paving of roads, establishing the University of Connecticut as an agricultural school and lobbying for free rural mail delivery for all.

The Grange is a national fraternal family organization “dedicated to the betterment of the American way of life through community service, education, legislation and fellowship.” There are state Granges and community chapters.

Farm fresh food, antique cars, animals …

Little Things Farm will bring its goats to Saturday’s Agricultural Fair at Harmony Grange. Contributed

On Saturday, Anna Bunovsky, 20, of Woodbury, Bunovsky’s granddaughter, will get the Agricultural Fair underway when she sings the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

Gail Bunovsky, who is the steward of Harmony Grange, as well as Ronald Bunovsky’s wife, said the food is always an attraction at the Agricultural Fair.

Bacon, egg and cheese on a roll with coffee will be available for breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. “And it’s farm fresh,” Gail said.

The lunch menu will include pulled pork, hot dogs, hamburgers and locally grown corn on the cob donated by Mason’s Farm Market from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The fair will also have a bake sale.

Little Things Farm of Newtown will bring its animals for pony rides and a petting zoo featuring rabbits, goats and pigs.

A car show will include an exhibit of antique cars, tractors and farming machinery. “We’ll have Model T’s, Model A’s, Farmall Cub Tractors and restored John Deer Tractors,” Ronald said.

A beekeeper will sell honey and Sepe Farm of Newtown will have woolen items from its sheep. A woman will do a wool spinning demonstration and there will be handmade crafts at the fair.

This 1910 Cadillac is among the classic cars visitors to Harmony Grange’s Agricultural Fair may see on display this Saturday. Contributed

Gail said the owner of Damsel in Defense of Pittsfield, Mass., will show off personal protection items.

There will also be live music, attic treasures, a needlework exhibit and a contest for the best vegetables, eggs and flowers with judges and cash prizes. “The produce has to be grown locally by them,” Gail said of contestants’ submissions.

TLC Wholesale Nursery will donate plants for a perennial plants sale. Other generous local donors include Benedict’s Home and Garden, Blue Spruce Farm and Out Front Farm.

Monroe’s movers and shakers

Harmony Grange had a strong membership in its earliest days, but now new members are needed. “Anybody who was anybody back then, belonged to the Grange,” Gail said.

She said Monroe’s chapter has 40 members, 20 of whom are active. Ronald said  information can be found on the Harmony Grange #92 Facebook page and aspiring new members can call him at 203-261-3074.

The Grange’s building is full of relics from its proud past, including meeting minutes from 1889, a night when James Burr was elected master (the title is now president).

When Nancy Zorena was president of the Monroe Historical Society, James Burr’s diary was given to them a few years ago. Gail said Burr’s notes confirm the accuracy of his election in the 1889 meeting minutes.

Most of the second floor of Harmony Grange is a large open room with a Maple hardwood floor on 12 inch centers. A stage in front of the room was used for skits at meetings and dinners and dances were held in the room, which has always had a piano.

Harmony Grange was Monroe’s social gathering place. “There was no TV and no radio,” Ronald said of the time period. “The mailman probably gave you the news of the day.”

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