1916 Polio Epidemic
Time Magazine places the poliomyelitis epidemic of 1916 as number five in its "Top 10 Terrible Epidemics" of all time worldwide. There were 9,000 cases in New York City and it was the cause for widespread panic among parents, since as its nickname "infantile paralysis" implies, most deaths occurred to those under age five. 25% of those infected with the disease died as a result that year. Children were barred from congregating in any common area such as swimming pools, amusement parks and movie theaters.
The Ulster County Fair was no exception. In 1916, children under 15 were refused admittance to the fair. According to The Kingston Daily Freeman (August 11, 1916) there were eight cases of polio reported in the Town of Wawarsing outside Ellenville and one case inside the corporate limits of the Village of Ellenville, by that date. The village case (a native child) was under quarantine, while the town cases were sent back to their permanent residences in New York City.