By Danny Crownover
Back in 1961, The Vagabond was just six years old. It seems that his father had to go to East Gadsden for errands. Coming back, Little Vagabond noticed a boy scout fair along First Street. Tents and stations were lined up all the way from the amphitheater to the old armory next to the old Katy Hughes Cemetery. The Vagabond recently found an old newspaper article about the event.
“Charles W. Barrett of Gadsden, the general manager of Republic Steels Southern District and an ardent Boy Scout booster, was head of the giant Choccolocco Council Scout Fair that ran May 5 and 6. Hugh M. Comer was the council president. Barrett has served as a member of the Boy Scout Executive Board for three years and was chairman of the Boy Scout Circus in 1958. He also was chairman of the council’s Golden Anniversary Program in 1960.
“The scout fair attracted more than 3,000 Cubs, Scouts and Explorers, with some 2,000 youngsters camping out in and around Moragne Park overlooking the Coosa River. Featuring a many-sided program, the fair was located on city property adjacent to Convention Hall, covering several blocks in that vicinity.
“Both indoor and outdoor exhibits and demonstrations utilized the facilities of the Municipal Auditorium, Fort William P. Lay, the National Guard Armory, the American Legion Post Amphitheater and the Municipal Swimming Pool.
“A dramatic pageant depicting the history of Scouting and of Alabama was staged by the scouts in the amphitheater.
“In the auditorium, Cub Scouting exhibits covered the whole program, with outdoor Cub demonstrations nearby.
“The armory featured indoor scouting and exploring booths, with firing conducted in the rifle range. Outside of the armory was a large Skill-O-Rama, featuring the wide-range of scouting skills in cooking and pioneering.
“The swimming pool headlined lifesaving, swimming, boating, and canoeing demonstrations along with a water pageant.
“Those in charge of the Fair Committee were Mr. Barrett, Vice Chairmen R.E. Bradbeer and administrator G.W. Leach. Serving under Bradbeer were Ervin Phillips, Cub Scouting; Robert King, Scouting and Exploring; H. Ray Cox, Skill-O-Rama; John King, Scout Camp; and Bill Day, special exhibits.
“Assisting Leach were Hugh Parker, ticket sales; John Thomas, Sr., judging and awards; Frank Helderman, program book; Ray Glenn, publicity; C.B. Collier, layout and assignment; Ira Phillips, concessions; Walter Damkoehler, participation; and Mayor Hugh S. Patterson, reception.
“District Scout Executive John E. Stauffer served as coordinator for the entire fair.