JOHNSTOWN – Around a dozen volunteers will become “alleged criminals” on Sept. 10 as part of a fundraising event for the Johnstown Historical Society that also celebrates a landmark anniversary for the Fulton County Courthouse.
The courthouse, which is the oldest continuously used courthouse in the state, will commemorate 250 years on Sept. 8. The building was erected in 1772 when New York was still a British colony – four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed and 15 before the United States Constitution was created.
To recognize the facility’s long-standing history, the facility will be open to the public outside of court use for the first time in years for the Johnstown Historical Society’s Jail & Bail event between noon and 4 p.m. on Sept. 10.
For the event people throughout the community, including officials, have volunteered to be charged with crimes that existed or were similar to ones that existed during the early days of the courthouse. People in clothing from that period will arrest the volunteers and bring them in front of a judge that sets their bail at $100 and they have to get people to come and bail them out,” said Jessica Henry McClemments, a board member for the Johnstown Historical Society.
McClemments said the event will give people a chance to see how court takes place.
“It’s a little bit of a show and it will be fun,” she said.
Fulton County Supervisor Greg Young, who represents the 5th Ward of Gloversville, is one of the people who volunteered to get arrested.
“I was charged with failing to shoot at least three crows or 12 blackbirds between March and June,” he said.
Young said he has always been interested in history so participating in the event was a no-brainer.
“I think it will be a rare and exciting opportunity for members of our community to get inside the historic courthouse and experience what a real gem we have,” he said.
Other people participating include Johnstown historian Noel Levee, City of Johnstown council member Eric Parker and Vintage Cafe owner Linda Joseph.
There will also be various items on display like reproduced prints of documents from the courthouse.
McClemments said Great Sacandaga Brewing Company has also brewed a special beer for the event that it will be sampling. The beer is based on something that Sir William Johnson, who commenced the construction of the courthouse, would have served at that time.
Young said the Fulton County Highway and Facilities Department created a replica of the bell that is in the courthouse and that will be on display.