By Frank J. Buchman
“Albany is still alive.”
Well, at least in a sense of the definition, but certainly Albany, the small once-incorporated community just two miles north of Sabetha in Nemaha County, will be lively with excitement this weekend.
“It’s time for the 50th annual Old Albany Days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9th, 10th and 11th, at the Albany Museum, right where the community was a century-and-a-half ago,” announced Travis McCoy, official of the Albany Historical Society, which coordinates the annual affair.
Based on past years, Albany will be full of folks from many miles around. Population of Albany for those three days will swell many times the number who ever lived there in its best heyday.
Of special significance, although little exact information has been recorded, Albany, founded in 1857, served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
However, in the mid part of the last century, the rural farming community was rapidly becoming a ghost town when a retired school teacher was inspired to develop the Albany Historical Museum.
It began with two buildings in the community: the 1867 Albany School and the Waggner house, built in the 1800s.
“In July 1965, the school and grounds were acquired by the then newly formed Albany Historical Society. Members donated most of the labor in restoring the buildings,” according to McCoy.
Over the past half century, several other buildings have been built or moved to the site. There are two more school buildings, a log cabin, post office, blacksmith shop, print shop, a train depot and two retired train caboose sit nearby.
“We have 16 buildings total, including a 1860s settler’s dugout recently constructed by volunteers,” McCoy said.
There is also a large collection of local artifacts, farm machinery and old automobiles. Many of these items are useful to researchers of Nemaha County history.
“The biggest event of the year is Old Albany Days, and we’ll have food, farm equipment demonstrations including some horse drawn equipment powered by horses, kids activities, a quilt show, antique tractor pull, garden tractor pull, antique gasoline engines, model steam engines, parade, flea market, train rides and musical entertainment among many other special activities,” McCoy related.
Kickoff event is the Albany Benefit Tractor Fun Cruise Friday, Sept. 19, beginning at 3 o’clock, and there’ll be a carry in supper about 6:30.
Of course, museum buildings will be open for Old Albany Days, and among the demonstrations each day are corn shelling and grinding, wheat threshing, apple cider pressing, soap making, operating saw mill and a Dutch oven cooking presentation.
In addition to the quilt show, the Sabetha Fiber Arts Club plans wool spinning, tatting, knitting, crocheting and other unique home tasks of yesteryear.
Entries are still open to vendors for the flea market throughout the event, with information available by calling 785-284-3446.
Saturday’s garden tractor pull is at 11 o’clock, and the antique tractor pull gets underway at 1 o’clock, with entries open to everyone and all welcomed. The big parade is set to start at 1 o’clock, with a wide assortment of entries anticipated from many miles around.
Good eating is always a highlight of Old Albany Days, and the “cook shack will benefit the Albany Museum,” McCoy emphasized. The kids’ activity center and horse team demonstrations are nearby.
Entertainment begins Saturday at 3 o’clock, featuring a historical pageant presented by local museum volunteers, high school students and teachers. Supper will be served at the cook shack following the pageant.
Church services are Sunday, Sept. 11, at 10:30, with the Dragway Hotwheels Racing, the last race of the season, beginning at 1:30.
“We welcome everybody to come to Albany during the 50th annual Old Albany Days. There’ll be electric hookups for campers, but no motorized vehicles will be allowed on the grounds during the show expect for those used by handicapped,” McCoy said.
McCoy can be called for additional information at 785-294-1756.