by Roy Hodge
Do you remember the Fulton Hoboes? I do, and if not for any other reason, every once in a while when I come across a photo of the group when son Jeff was a member.
In my memory, the Hoboes were an important part of the Cracker Barrel Fair, which was a fixture in Fulton for many years, and were still strutting their stuff during Riverfest celebrations in the late 80s and 90s.
From Hodgepodge, August 15, 1989:
Wasn’t Riverfest wonderful?
“On Saturday I sat on the front porch of The Fulton Patriot building for three hours and along with many other Festival goers soaked in the soothing Dixieland strains of the Hanover Squares, a talented six-some of musicians from the Syracuse area.
“The afternoon’s musical program had been underway a few minutes when the city’s esteemed group of fanatical funsters, The Fulton Hoboes, showed up to partake of the entertainment. I guess the Hoboes had sent an advance man to scout the premises and as soon as the announcement was made that there was food and drink inside the Hoboes trooped in, en masse.
“Hanover Squares drummer Dick Jones, who is always quick with appropriate commentary, noted: ‘That must be the paper’s staff.’
“Funny? Yes, but…Two of the hoboes actually are (in real life, as they say), members of The Patriot’s staff.
“If my recollection of Fulton clowning history is coming back to me properly as I type this, I can tell you that the Fulton Hoboes were formed somewhere around 25 years ago. They originally got together as part of the programs at the First Methodist Church annual talent show. The group became well known to the public after Fulton’s Cracker Barrel Fairs were started in 1966.
“Original members of that group of clowners included Chubby Scaringi, Jan Peacock, Barbara Phelps, and Betty McGraw, with Shirlee Collins and Norma Owens also logging plenty of duty in the early years.
“Among my fondest memories, I recall the first years of the Cracker Barrel Fair when a certain little kid, who happened to share my last name among other things, fell in love with the Hoboes and tagged them relentlessly around the fairgrounds all during the fair. After about three years of that one of the Hoboes finally said, ’Listen kid, if you’re going to hang around with us you’re going to have to wear a funny hat and a red nose.’
“That little kid grew up to be Hobo Jeff, the tall skinny member of today’s version of the Fulton Hoboes.
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