Although America is one of the youngest countries in the world, the history that it holds is profound and growing. Such history can be seen even in the rural parts of Western Washington, as the timber industry helped build this country to where it stands today.
Even though high winds and persistent waves of rain took center stage at times, that did not stop people from getting out to enjoy a little bit of history, as well as community bonding at the 2022 Old Timers Fair over Mother’s Day weekend.
The Matlock Historical Society hosted their Old Timers Fair at the Mary M. Knight School District grounds. The event was bustling with activity as cars were consistently streaming in to partake in the fair.
Inside the school, a crowded market-style gathering of people perused shops that were selling homemade sweets, gardening equipment, jewelry, and Native American antiques. Outside was just as busy, as vendors got people stretched into the dozens to get food ranging from simple hot dogs and a slice of pizza to the more unique items, such as barbequed turkey legs and giant elephant ears.
Other exhibits populated the makeshift fairgrounds of the school, as people gathered to look at various steam pistons, World War II memorabilia, classic cars, and even chain saws that dated back as far as 1947. The event saw a lot of family friendly activities, as children lined up for tractor pulls, airsoft range, and a big European super slide.
Linda Johnson, who has been helping with the event for years, says while the fair has seen more people in the past it’s good to see people coming back after the two-year hiatus.
“We used to have so many people come here that traffic had to be directed because the main road would get blocked,” Johnson said. “We thought that with the pandemic preventing us from being here that the majority of the people would just drift away, but I’m glad that’s not the case.”
The main attraction of the fair though was the John Turnow exhibit at the corner of the school lot. The Turnow exhibit was built inside the original schoolhouse building of Mary M. Knight School District and showcased the history of the man dubbed “The Wild Man of the Wynoochee.” The exhibit featured countless stories written during the 19-month manhunt in 1911 (the longest in Washington history at the time) for Turnow, as well as some of the tools and artifacts collected from him and others that tried to capture Turnow.
Bill Lindstrom, author of “John Turnow: Victim or Villain,” sat outside the exhibit, enthusiastic to tell the story of Turnow to anyone who was curious to learn more. Lindstrom, who also happened to serve as city editor of The Daily World prior to 2013, said during his nearly three decades of researching, there is a lot about Turnow that people don’t know outside what the history books tell us.
“In March of 1912, two deputies were sent out to look for him (Turnow) and they ended up dead. What was interesting is that their bodies were found buried in the shape of a ‘T’,” Lindstrom explained. “So would Turnow call attention to himself that way or would somebody else call attention to Turnow that way?”
Lindstrom went on to explain that since Turnow was never given a chance to defend himself, it’s hard to say whether he was the villain the people declared him to be or if whether he was a victim just trying to live his life in solitude within the forests of the Wynoochee. He also says that he is currently working on a new book about Turnow given new information learned about his childhood and the camps he lived at during the late 1800s.
While the Old Timers Fair is now a memory this year, the Matlock Historical Society is excited to have it again next spring with the hope that it draws even more people. For anyone interested in learning more about the future events from the historical society, as well as more about the Old Timers Fair or John Turnow, check out their Facebook page or read Lindstrom’s work.