“Back in the day” Belmont in September was a lively place, lively in the sense of human activity as well as the emerging splendor of autumn. According to Corinne Melchers’ diary of the 1920s, the flurry of harvest time labors included canning tomatoes, beans and apples, bottling wine, cutting hay, shocking corn, keeping vigil at a calving, and cleaning the flower beds. Gari Melchers, if at home for a rest, was quite naturally lured out of doors, walking the environs of the property to document it all with his animated brushwork and alluring colors.
Another excitement was the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair, which rolled around every September, to the great anticipation of everyone including Gari and Corinne Melchers. The horse races were a favorite attraction, inspiring a painting by Gari Melchers titled The Race, Country Fair. The couple entered Lady Corinne and Rex in the judging of livestock, and Mason Dillon, Belmont’s long-time groundskeeper, loaded up gallons of fresh milk for the milk shake booth Mrs. Melchers helped man at the fairgrounds. Needless to say, the current staff at Belmont is grateful that the culinary and calving activities are a thing of the past!
Pictured is a photo of Mason Dillon behind the plow and two paintings by Melchers entitled Shocking Corn (private collection) and The Race, Country Fair, all dating to the 1920s.