Woodstock Old Home Week
The inaugural Old Home Week was held during the last week of August 1948. Mr. Frederick O. Creighton, Woodstock's mayor at the time, had the idea for one week of numerous events. A Charter Member of the Woodstock Rotary Club, local entrepreneur, and community volunteer, Mr. Creighton's idea gained support from the Rotary Club, and Old Home Week became a reality. For its first two years, the Rotary Club led the organization of Old Home Week until the annual festival had grown too large to be handled by a single group. As a result, organization from that point on would be assisted by the local Y's Mens Club, Elks and Lions Clubs, Royal Canadian Legion branch, and other interested individuals. To this day, Old Home Week remains a large community effort.
From its founding in 1948 until 1967, most of Old Home Week's events took place on Island Park, a tear drop shaped island which sat in the middle of the Saint John River, at the mouth of the Meduxnekeag River. With approximately 100 acres of space, Island Park was home to nearly every recreational facility before the permanent flooding of the island by the Mactaquac dam headpond. Road access was provided by a ramp leading off the halfway point of the Grafton Bridge, spanning from King Street to Grafton from 1884 to its demolition in 1970. A large exhibition building stood on this island from 1919 until its destruction by fire in 1946, being replaced shortly after.
A horse racetrack and a grand stand were also on the island. From around 1920 to the Second World War, the island had a miniature railroad. Built mostly by municipal worker Albert Wort, the miniature railway was another favorite attraction in its day. The hockey arena and community swimming pools were also located on the island from the 1950s onward. In 1967, despite major disappointment and even protest, the Island Park's facilities were relocated to the present Connell Park to make way for the raising of the Mactaquac headpond. The new park provided improved parking along with better, more modern facilities, aside from the sadness left from the loss of Old Home Week's site for its first two decades.
The parade has always occurred on the Sunday of the week and is a great way to help kick off the festivities. The first parade was held in conjunction with Old Home Week's beginning in 1948. At the time, this inaugural parade was considered to be one of the best of its kind to happen in Woodstock in a long time, as it was the first to happen after the Second World War. Many local businesses, service clubs and individuals entered floats in the parade—a tradition that continues today.
A midway has attracted reasonably large crowds to the Woodstock area since the days of Old Home Week on Island Park. This attraction consists of several carnival rides along with a number of canteens to satisfy the hunger of visitors. When the fair happened on the island, rides were provided by the Bill Lynch Organization. Later, the King Reid Company brought rides until the 1974 return of the Bill Lynch shows. Today, the popular rides are courtesy of Campbell Amusements.
Several other events make up Old Home Week's schedule including a horse pull, gospel concert, dairy show, 4-H agricultural achievement show, the Joe McGuire Road Race and Demolition Derby. Events like these help ensure the continued success of Old Home Week.
Originally a fashion show called the Miss Upper Saint John River Valley competition, the Miss New Brunswick pageant has been an annual and popular event at Old Home Week for five and a half decades. In 1955, a trophy was donated to the Old Home Week commission to be awarded to the young woman who would be crowned Miss New Brunswick that year. At age eighteen, Marion Corey, originally from Southampton, received the inaugural Miss New Brunswick crown. Now married and known as Marion Kirkpatrick, Marion moved to Woodstock in 1961, where she continues to reside today. She still holds fond memories of many aspects of her experience, and she shared them during a 2010 interview. “In those days, the ladies needed a sponsor from their community as part of participating in the pageant. The Town of Woodstock asked me to come, so they ended up being my sponsor,” Marion recalls. “The pageant took place on Island Park. On the island, a building stood in the center of the old horse racetrack where we dressed and prepared. The Island Park grand stand was full to capacity. Being on the island surrounded by water made for a very nice, outdoor atmosphere.”
103 Connell Park Road,