Fairfield County Pigeon Fanciers Association, Inc.
Little Bit of History Regarding the Fairfield County Pigeon Fanciers
Host of the “Faircount Shows”
By Bob Johnston, Past President
On April 19, 1961, just four years before I became a member of the Fairfield County Pigeon Fanciers Association, three gentleman appeared before the then Secretary of the State of Connecticut, Ella T. Grasso, yes, the same Ella T. Grasso who later became the first woman Governor of Connecticut, (and may I add, one of our best Governors). These three gentlemen, Anthony Catalano, John Allen, and Marshall (Pete) Bassick were there to receive our Certification of Incorporation. The first two men are now deceased and since Pete moved some years ago to New Hampshire, I’ve lost all contact with him.
In 1965 or there about, I had just got back into the Pigeon hobby and was looking to join the nearest local Club, if there was one. I called an old time L.F.C. L. Tumbler breeder, Robert Jones, who happened to be the adult leader in our Jr. Pigeon Club when I was in grammar school. He informed me of the F.C.P.F.A. which met in Pete Bassick’s (Modena Fancier) office in a factory building in Bridgeport, CT on North Avenue, once a month. I contacted Pete and he gave me the address where they met on the second Tuesday of each month.
At that time, besides the four gentlemen I mentioned earlier, the members consisted of Al Manning of Pigmy Pouter fame and also was a Modena Fancier, George Marks who raised and flew Homers and also raised Modenas, Anthony Samperi, also a Tony Samperi who raced Homers and was one of the most successful flyers in the Bridgeport area, and also raised Modenas. There was also another member that I had never met, Vick Hardwick, a Pouter breeder from Seymour, CT. Other members included John Kochiss, who bought and sold all kinds of pigeons, Andre Pichlet an ex-Hungarian Freedom fighter and his friend John Messter, who both raised Budapest’s Hungarian Golas and high flyers and then there was Wes Lourigan of Flying Roller Fame, his strain is still found in some of this country’s most prestigious flying Roller lofts. Also Grif Jones, Bob’s brother who also raised L.F.C.L. Tumblers, Roger Gravel who was our Club secretary for many years and still raises Helmets. Then there was this real pigeon bug and he still is today and you all know him as Frank Barrachina, our N.P.A. President, our loss was California’s gain!
There was another real ball of fire, Ely Cohen. Ely raised every known breed that came through Sam’s Feed and Pigeon Supply Store on the Post Road in the Bronx, New York. It was Ely who came up with the idea of having an All-Variety Young and Old Bird Show, up to then it was just a Young Bird Lawn Show held in Tony Catalano’s back yard on Main Street in Stratford, CT. Our President at the time was Everett Lanaro (Dr.) who also raised Modenas and our treasurer was Lou Renkovinski who raised every animal and birds known to man, and yours truly was secretary, who still raises Blondinettes. We, along with Wes Lourigan and Ely Cohen, decided that at our next club meeting Ely would make a motion to hold the first of the “Faircount” Shows and it was quickly seconded by Wes Lourigan and put to a quick vote (ah, democracy in action).
After somewhat of a debate, against the motion, in vain from a few of the members, the vote was in favor of the motion and thus, became the start of the “Faircount Shows” all thirty-seven. Incidentally it was Pete Bassick who shortened the name of the show to “Faircount.”
Upon hearing at the Danbury Pigeon and Poultry show that this would be there last show, that they were disbanding the club, we quickly adopted their show date, the first weekend after Thanksgiving and we had held the same date since for the last 37 years!
The first show was held in the American Legion Hall on Main Street, Stratford, Connecticut. Ely was fortunate to have been able to get George Whately and his wife from New Jersey to take charge of the judging books and secretary’s duties. The day of the show, I will never forget it, was unbelievable, and we wound up with taking late entries and a total of over 1,200 birds and with holes for only 800. I was ready to sneak out the back door, I was a nervous wreck! The police doing traffic duty at the church up the street from us came to the hall just to find out what was causing all the traffic congestion!
The exhibitors, and they were from all of the New England area, and New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania were so congenial that they told us don’t worry about not having enough holes for their birds they would leave them in their carrying cases and would bring them up themselves to the Judging Coops. Everyone pitched in with the stewarding, etc. I have never seen such cooperation as we had that day. It was then I know that I had to be that the pigeon people were the greatest and they proved it that day! The first “Faircount Show” became a total success thanks to them.
I would just like to mention the following member who ere instrumental in the “Faircount Show” successes Past Treasurer and President, Dr. Paul Ambrose deceased, Frank Dovozdowksi, Bill Watman deceased, Past Secretary Janet Dritanbas and her husband Butch, Mike Cocchia Past President, Ed Tomasko, Joe Liska, Joyce and Greg Cap and family, Ernie Fisher, Tony Sodoski, Rick Petraroia, Dr. George Whitney – who’s dad was quite a raising pigeon flyer and wrote the book “Keep Them Flying,” the two Spodnick brothers – John and Chris, Ovrille “John” Johnson, Bob Cisiewicz, Mike Green, Tony Patti, Mick McCumber deceased, Lou Riley, Pete Sr. and Pete Jr. Fronio, Edward Buttner, Anthony Sibly, Frank Pazda deceased, Joe Vege, Stanley Janick, Vern Duntz and I’m sure I probably left out a few more members past and present and to them I apologize.