Red Wing’s history in 32 pages

A small booklet is big on history when it comes to 100 years of Red Wing in Fredonia.Written by Jeff Adams of Fredonia and published in July, a 32-page “The History of The Red Wing Company Fredonia, NY, 100th Anniversary 1912-2012” documents the company’s beginnings, its growth and its current state. It even includes an introduction by Ed Steele, who notes Red Wing’s beginnings were tied to grapes.

“It was originally a grape juice company,” Steele writes. “At that time, it was widely believed that Concord Grape Juice contained magical medicinal qualities that promoted health and well being. Red Wing’s early years, however, were not distinguished as the company had lost substantial amounts of money.”

Those losses led to the company changing its niche, becoming a producer of jams, jellies, catsup and chili sauce. In later years, these products expanded to peanut butter, pasta and pizza sauce as well as syrups, other sauces and marinades.

Adams, a current employee of the company, notes the assistance of Steele, Doug Shepard, Doug Manly, Rowland Mahany and John Slater for assisting in getting the facts, photos and labels and logos for the book. Also featured is a photo of columnist William F. Buckley and his wife who visited the Fredonia plant in the 1980s. Buckley was a big Red Wing peanut butter fan.

About 200 copies of the booklet are available to those interested for a $5 donation at the Darwin Barker Library and Museum.

Stubborn Fredonia

It was refreshing to hear Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe say the village is open to sharing or consolidating services with the town of Pomfret on Monday during an appearance on “Viewpoint” on WDOE.

But actions speak louder than words. Fredonia, which has done barely anything to promote partnerships in the past two years, has not been cooperative with local agencies and neighboring municipalities.

“To tell you the truth,” Keefe told WDOE, “I think Fredonia takes a bad shot when it comes to regionalization because we’re not opposed to regionalization, we just want a program or project that fits in with our economic needs and is in the best interest of the village. … We, as representatives of the village, we have to watch out for the village first and foremost.”

Why the “bad shot?” Let’s count the ways.

1. The village refuses to pay a relatively small fee to be a part of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corp.

2. The village does not attend monthly Chadwick Bay meetings.

3. The village has not signed on to be in north county water district discussions.

4. The village refused to be a part of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Project.

5. The village would not negotiate with the town of Pomfret – or meet them halfway – on the fire protection contract.

If the village were not so condescending to other entities when it comes to these items, maybe we would be more encouraged by Keefe’s comments. Right now, however, a major change in attitude is needed by the Village Board before we see it working with any other community.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to or call 366-3000, ext. 401.