The Shad Derby is not Windsor's only town festival. In fact, Windsor started hosting agricultural fairs over a century ago, and the tradition continues with the Northwest Park Country Fair.
What would it be like to come to this town after a harrowing ocean voyage and adjust to a new climate, new foods, new working conditions, and racial prejudice, as well? Fay Clarke Johnson tells the story of Jamaicans who left their lovely, temperate island to find work in the Connecticut River Valley during WWII in her 1995 book Soldiers of the Soil.
Acres of gladiolus blooms. Hundreds of thousands of rooted geranium and chrysanthemum cuttings. Greenhouses 150 feet long. It is so hard to picture it today, but in the mid-twentieth century, floriculture was very big business in Windsor.
The Order of Patrons of Husbandry, the national Grange movement, began in 1867 with a mission that combined nationwide support for farmers, including education and lobbying, and family-based social and community-service activities. The initiative was widely embraced and spread rapidly across the country. The first Grange in Windsor was organized in 1874.
Windsorites have grown and harvested tobacco leaves for hundreds of years. Native Americans and early settlers both cultivated the crop. By the 1920s more than 30,000 acres in the 60-mile long Tobacco Valley, which runs from Portland, Connecticut to the southern tip of Vermont, were devoted to tobacco.