Mad. Sq. 200, a fair to remember

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite a brief downpour at the beginning of the history-themed fair, Mad. Sq. 200 in Madison Square Park went off as planned last Saturday in an afternoon celebrating the 200th anniversary of the park’s naming.

The event was scheduled for 3 p.m. and rain hit around 3:10, forcing attendees and participating vendors under the tents until the rain cleared a few minutes later.

“When you have to worry about as many antiques as I do, you always come prepared,” said Denny Daniel, curator and founder of the Museum of Interesting Things. Since rain was in the forecast, Daniel packed some plastic tarps along with the old telephones, phonographs, cameras and wind-up toys he had on display, showcasing some of the entertainment and technology that was popular at the turn of the last two centuries.

The rain did provide some relief from the 90-degree weather last weekend, a rare occurrence this summer, and the skies stayed clear for the rest of the festivities, which included a performance by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers and a short dance lesson for attendees, as well as law games for kids and adults, croquet games and treats from Brooklyn Farmacy and The Cannibal Beer & Butcher.

A popular stop was where Daniel was showing his collection of antique gadgets and gizmos.

Daniel has been collecting antique items for the last five years and his “museum” includes photographs, toys, early medical inventions, antique literature and old scientific tools. One of the interactive pieces that he brought to the park was a mutoscope, an early motion picture device that works on the same principle as a flipbook, with pictures printed on cards, spun on a Rolodex and seen through a viewfinder. This particular one showed Charlie Chaplin and Felix the Cat, and operated through quarters placed in the slot.

Ashley Hughes, director of programs at the Madison Square Park Conservancy, said that planning for Mad Sq. 200 has been going on since May. However, the event has been in the works longer than that, with ideas being thrown around since January. The next big event at the park will be Mad Sq. Music: The Studio Series of free concerts, beginning on September 13. See T&V’s Around & About listings for details.

Click through to see photos from the event.

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Historic fair will celebrate anniversary of Madison Sq. Park’s naming

TASK creator Oliver Herring at his studio

TASK creator Oliver Herring at his studio

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Madison Square Park is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the park’s naming in style this weekend with a historical fair and contemporary art party featuring period-themed activities and displays from the 19th and 20th centuries.

There will be popular lawn games from the past 200 years set up throughout the park, including badminton/shuttlecock, croquet for both adults and kids, jump rope, marbles, hopscotch and a 1914-inspired dice game of hearts.

The Museum of Interesting Things, which is a traveling interactive exhibition of inventions and antiques, will be at the event with a booth containing popular cultural items from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries on display. Betsy, a Fifth Avenue Coach Company double decker bus that ran in Manhattan from 1931 to 1953 will be on display thanks to the New York Transit Museum and attendees will be able to check out the clothing and fashion from the early 1800’s and 1900’s in an exhibit from Leading Lady Costumes.

There will also be a number of performances throughout the afternoon, featuring music, dancing and magic popular during the early 1900’s. The Mad. Sq. 200 Quartet is a string quartet with alumni from the Juilliard School and will perform popular classical music from the 1800’s. The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers will demonstrate some of the line dances popular during the early 1800’s and 1900’s, all while in full costume.

The historic daytime fair will be Saturday, September 6 from 3 to 6 p.m., but after that until 9 p.m., the improvisational art organization known as TASK will be hosting an experimental, contemporary art party.

TASK was created by artist Oliver Herring and participants follow two simple rules: write down a task on a piece of paper and add it to a designated TASK pool, then others take a task from the pool and interpret it any way they want, using materials and props provided.

Madison Square Park Conservancy executive director Keats Myer recently spoke to the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership about the fair and party.

“This event is to honor Madison Square Park’s rich history, while also celebrating the diverse and vibrant community that makes the Park so special today,” Myer told the BID.