A New Life for the Celebrated Peru Fair Wagon
This year’s Peru Fair will feature a totally rebuilt Peru Fair Wagon. The oldest record of the Peru Fair Wagon, an iconic symbol of the Fair, was as a New Hampshire school wagon in the late 1800s; its true age is unknown. The semi-open style with side benches and forward-facing driver’s bench places it in the category of a buckboard wagon. It was purchased for the town somewhere around 1996 for use in the Peru Fair.
The wagon underwent numerous renovations and paintings, but in recent years neglect, rust and rot took over, and reduced the wagon to a derelict hulk with rotten wheels, loose bearings, broken traces and rusted metal fittings. Paul Myers decided in 2012 that drastic reconstruction was desperately needed, and a project was organized to meticulously photograph and disassemble the old wagon and rebuild it to the exact dimensions of its predecessor. The reconstruction, including rebuilding chassis and box, took six months; just in time for it to appear in the Londonderry Fourth of July Parade.
Joel Kuhlberg, carpenter and project supervisor, Mike Malekoff, undercarriage reconstruction, and Ernie Plumb, welding and metal repair, spent hundreds of hours photographing and disassembling the old wagon, repairing metal parts and rebuilding the wooden body. Joel had to construct a steam box for bending the hardwood rails, and roof supports. New wooden wheels and traces were duplicated by Eric Chamberlain in Pennsylvania. Whitmore Coach Hardware, New Howland, Penn. replaced the coach hardware and Vermont Hardwoods of Chester, Vt. supplied the specialized hardwoods for the body. Paul Myers did most of the painting.
The rebuilt Peru Fair Wagon, looks exactly like its antique predecessor, is ready for a new century of festive activities, and assumes new significance as a symbol of the renewal accompanying the construction of the new J.J. Hapgood Store, the new Town Hall, the BBA Mountain Campus, a new business in the Cheese Factory and major improvements in other old buildings throughout the town. Come see it all at the Peru Fair, Saturday, September 28, 9 to 4.