The Cogan House Township “Old Time Country Fair.”
In the early 1980's, a member of the White Pine United Methodist Women suggested that the women host an old time country fair. The idea was to bring back events that would have been held at a country fair during the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, it wasn't until the fair idea was presented again in 1987 that plans for the first Cogan House Township Old Time Country Fair became a reality. The fair was held September 3, 1988, on the grounds of the White Pine U.M. Church and was hosted by the Methodist women. Events included hay rides, cake walks, judged exhibits, and demonstrations of old time crafts. A variety of food, children's games, a men's beard contest, old time costume winners, country music and an evening square dance rounded out the day’s activities. Meredith Field was crowned as the first "Little Miss Cogan House," and five township residents, aged 90 or older, were honored for their contributions to the community.
After the great success of the first fair, a steering committee made up of residents from all over the township, was formed. A decision was made to move the fair to the township municipal property near Beech Grove, in order to find space for impending growth. As interest in the fair grew, it attracted turkey callers, buckskinners, spinners, old time crafters and a talent show. For 23 years the annual “Old Time Country Fair” was a time for families with ties to Cogan House Township to gather, reminisce and enjoy activities of the past. However, a lack of volunteer support and the changing genre of the Fair from its “old time” roots resulted in the annual fair being discontinued in 2011. Clyde Quimby, Treasurer of the OTCF, during its last years, remains hopeful that the Old Time Country Fair can be revived at some time in the future.
The "Birch Still Festival"
The art of "birch stilling" was once well known to residents of Cogan House Township. However, by the late 1980s only a few older residents recalled the "stills" that once dotted the landscape and provided extra income to farmers and lumbermen. During the mid-1980s Carl Taylor, a native of the area, decided to preserve information still available on birch stilling in Cogan House Township. Evan "Jack" Quimby had spent many hours around a birch still in his youth and was happy to share what he knew about the process. In 1987, Jack began constructing a scaled down, but fully operational, birch still in his son Clyde’s pasture field, across from the White Pine Church. Dr. Taylor proposed the idea of converting the Church's annual fall dinner into a "birch festival." Members of the church and the "Ladies Aid" thought it was a great idea.
The main attraction of the Birch Still Festival was Jack’s demonstration of the workings of the still. The event featured old time dulcimer music, basket weaving, chair caning, delicious food and birch beer. The event was a rousing success. Carl's and Jack’s idea had captured the interest of the community as well as newspapers from State College, Williamsport and West Chester. Jack’s birch still was subsequently donated to the Lycoming County Historical Museum in Williamsport.
(Read more on the “Old Time Country Fair” and the “Birch Still Festival” in the book “Cogan House Township, The 1900s” by Nancy E. Baumgartner. The book is available at the Lycoming County Historical Society; the Lycoming County Genealogy Society; and Otto’s Book Store in Williamsport.)