New exhibit highlights 'Mattapoisett Fun'

By Georgia Sparling | Jul 01, 2016
Photo by: Georgia Sparling The summer exhibit features a combination of items from the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum's collection and on loan from people in the community.

Mattapoisett — If you’ve lived in or around Mattapoisett for more than one summer, you likely have a connection to the Mattapoisett Historical Society’s new exhibit.

“Mattapoisett Fun: Celebrate Summer” is all about the outdoor activities that have shaped, and continue to shape, the sun-drenched days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“There’s so many really amazing traditions in this town,” said Historical Society President Jennifer McIntire, who came up with the idea for the exhibit.

With Curator Jeffrey Miller, the two put together a display that spans more than a century and includes long-standing races, boating, beaches and baseball.

Each section of the exhibit features profiles of the people and organizations that helped to shape the summertime activities in town.

“All of these events are really shaped by people,” said Miller, who came up with the idea to interview those involved in the various activities.

McIntire interviewed Dave Jenney about running in 33 Mattapoisett Road Races, golfer “Steady Betty” Winn on the travels that resulted after putting at the Reservation Golf Course, and Art Benner, the historian and organizer of the Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race.

Benner was on hand for the exhibit and said the hardest thing about contributing to it was what he should highlight from his vast collection of artifacts.

One of the oldest continuous activities in the area, Benner attributed the race’s longevity to the fact that it’s changed over time.

“It’s a different race than it was when I was a kid,” he said.

Portages, areas where competitors have to carry their boat on land, were once much longer. Now they are quick, no more than a minute or two. But once the race route included runs across fields and through the woods with the boat hoisted overhead.

“It was brutal,” said Benner, who came in third several times in his river racing career.

Such details are what make the exhibit interesting for anyone who has spent time in town, which was part of the goal, said McIntire.

She wanted an exhibit that bridged the past with the present

As with the Survivial camping trip exhibit last summer, “people were really enlivened by the current history,” she said. “We had some pretty old stuff and then it brings it up to modern times.”

The exhibit opened on Friday and will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. until Aug. 27.

Richard Reilley and Thomas Cooper, after receiving first and second place, respectively, in the 1971 road race. (Courtesy of: Mattapoisett Historical Society)
Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race Chair and historian Art Benner contributed his vast knowledge of the race to the exhibit. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Dave Jenney's 5,000 mile shoe trophy. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
The Mattapoisett Band, circa May 30, 1910. (Photo by: Mattapoisett Historical Society)
Oscar Tinkham was a professional baseball player from Mattapoisett in the early 1900s. (Photo by: Mattapoisett Historical Society)
Betty Winn started playing golf in 1966 and joined the Reservation Golf Club the following year. She won Most Improved in '67 and '68. (Photo by: Mattapoisett Historical Society)
A Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race on loan to the museum. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
These two bikes are separated by a century. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
Kids enjoy Town Beach. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)
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