Sunday, November 27, 2022

Washington County Fair is full go

By Sophia Afsar-Keshmiri, Chronicle Summer Staff

‘The Big Push’ in its third year shows Fairgoers the birthing process for real. Chronicle file photo/Cathy DeDe

The 132nd Washington County Fair opens Monday, Aug. 22, and runs daily through Sunday, Aug. 28, at the fairgrounds on Route 29, between Greenwich and Schuylerville.

The animals, the rides, the games, the tractor pulls, food concessions new and old: “It’s back to normal” for the first time since Covid, says Fair co-General Manager Rebecca Breese.

She touts the new giant Ferris wheel, year three of the ‘Big Push’ cow birthing, craft beverage and fiber industries initiatives, the return of interactive events such as the 4H Veggie Races (kids make vegetable “cars” and race them!).

Mrs. Breese also touts “the Stewart’s ice cream giveaway…and the FFA farmland.” FFA is Future Farmers of America.

Pandemic perspective

“Things are back that…had to be altered or changed due to the pandemic,” Mrs. Breese said. Kids are “now able to interact on a level that they weren’t necessarily able to do the in past two years.”

She said, “The livestock…numbers are back up from where they were pre pandemic,” which she says organizers are “pretty…ecstatic about.”

The Fair is a summer ritual for many area families — both participants and attendees, but Mrs. Breese says it’s great for new residents in the area.

“There are people who are moving to this area…With the pandemic we’ve gotten a lot of new neighbors, and they’re making it [the fair] a family tradition…

“I think that’s…a testament to what a great…magical…special place that we have here.”

Showing how farms are evolving

Mrs. Breese told The Chronicle, “We’re continuing to recognize how the industry has evolved and…continue to give…farmers and producers somewhere to…showcase their product and educate the public.”

She described new events that reflect it.

Fleece to Shawl: “The fiber industry as a whole in Washington County [and] the Capital District has exploded,” said Mrs. Breese, terming it “amazing.” Fairgoers “get an opportunity to be exposed to that industry” Sunday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. in the County Bounty Building. “You see an item go from wool and then…processed…weaved and then created into a garment,” says Mrs. Breese.

First-ever Farmer’s Market: Mrs. Breese says the County Bounty has long been featured at the Fair, “but we have taken it a step further” with the first-ever farmers’ market. “There is goat soap, honey, craft beverages, wool products, beef, and more” from such vendors as Heritage Bees, Nessle Brothers meat and Hicks Orchard.

Tastings and By the Glass: “The craft beverage industry” will be represented in the County Bounty Building with “tastings and by-the-glass events” at noon and 4 p.m. daily Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 23 through 27.

More of what’s new

Ferris Wheel: Mrs. Breese says organizers are “pretty excited” for “a giant Ferris wheel…one of the largest traveling Ferris wheels in the country,” that will be at the fair for the first time.

Sunscreen stations: “and actually new this year, we also have sunscreen dispensers throughout the fairgrounds”

‘Agriculture front & center’

Asked how the fair might contribute to keeping young county residents interested in agriculture, Mrs. Breese says, “Washington County has some of the most diverse agriculture in New York State. One of the things I think we do is we bring agriculture front and center and show that it’s not just one thing.”

She elaborated: “You could be involved in the dairy industry…milking cows, or…be a milk tester…You could be a shepherd…involved in the processing of fibers, or you could be on the soil side…the crop side…We do have vineyards and hopyards…

“We also have…a large…honeybee population…and…one of the most internationally recognized bee companies [Betterbee in Greenwich]…we have honey and…beekeepers here at the fair…willing to talk about what they do…their craft and how they make it.”

Mrs. Breese says, “One of the things we do is…pique interest…We expose kids to the agricultural industry from a very young age…with support of organizations like FFA and 4H.”

Focus on year-round fairground use

The Washington County Fairgrounds continues transforming into a “year-round” venue, according to Mrs. Breese.

During “the pandemic our phone was ringing off the hook…people needing to do food drives, medical clinics, chicken dinners or meeting space, because we have wide open spaces.

Plus, she noted, “We’re pretty centrally located not only for Washington County, but also Warren and Saratoga, and Vermont…in some cases.”

“We are continuing to open up and diversify…we have the holiday lights…other events,” said Mrs. Breese.

“We personally feel that we owe it to the community to be open for as many events as possible, whether it be events that we put together or events that…people bring to us.”

She says the purpose of the facility is “bringing the community together.”

Already looking to 2023

Even though the Fair returned last year, it was truncated, Mrs. Breese said.

“It takes over a year to plan a fair, and we were not given the green light to plan, after losing a whole year’s worth of income, until June last year.”

“We crammed 13 plus months (of planning) in two,” Mrs. Breese says. “That was pretty impressive.”

She says “I’m very proud of what we were able to put together.

Back to normal, even before this year’s Fair opens on Monday night, “We’re already planning for 2023.”

Wash. County non-farm kids can ‘lease,’ work with & show an animal

The 4-H Lease Program at the Washington County Fair lets non-farm kids get involved in working with, caring for and showing animals at the Fair.

Rebecca Breese, the Fair’s co-General Manager, explains, “If you are a resident of Washington County or…a member of a 4H within Washington County, you can…lease an animal and…work with them all summer long…Then…you have the opportunity to show them at the Fair.”

It’s “set up…just like…if they were at your home, but you’ll go to the farm…learn how to lead it…help take care of it…When you come to the fair, you’re responsible for taking care of it,” Mrs. Breese said.

“For someone who…grew up…with the inability to have a cow in their backyard, this is an opportunity for them to…jump in hands-on into the industry.”

“A pretty amazing opportunity,” Mrs. Breese enthuses.

Fair details: Tix, hours, other specs

The 132nd Washington County Fair runs Monday to Sunday, Aug. 22 to 28, at the County Fairgrounds on Route 29, west of Greenwich, was of Schuylerville. Full schedule, tickets and details: Also see The Chronicle calendar.

Gate Hours
Monday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Vendors open at 10 a.m. Tues.-Sun.

Carnival Hours
Monday, 5 to 11 p.m.
Tuesday to Saturday, 12 to 11 p.m.
Sunday, 12 to 9 p.m.

Admission and Special Days
Fair admission: $15, free for ages 13 and younger and for active military members with ID. Full-week pass: $45.
Senior Day: Wednesday, Aug. 24: $7 admission for ages 62 and older.
Children’s Day & Veterans Day, Thursday, Aug. 25: School age & younger are free, $7 admission for veterans
Parking is free. Shuttles available.
Accessibility: Southern Adirondack Independent Living (SAIL) offers a limited number of wheelchairs on a first-come first-serve basis. Wheelchairs cannot be reserved. Service dogs as defined by the ADA are allowed. No other pets.

Carnival ride details
Ride tickets: $1.25 each, $20 for a sheet of 20, advance discount: Half price before 4 p.m. on Mon., Aug. 22, $50 for a sheet of 56 tickets.
Rides typically cost 2 to 5 tickets, 1 to 4 tickets on Thursday, Aug. 25, which is Children’s Day.
Hand-stamp days: Ride all rides for $25 on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, Aug. 23, 26 and 28.

Rodeo, tractor pull, Demolition Derby…

Motor sports, the tractor and truck pulls, demolition derby and rodeo are big draws in the grandstand
Here’s this year’s schedule:
Demolition Derby, Monday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m.
Rodeos, Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Garden Tractor Pull, Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 9 a.m.
4-Wheel Drive Diesel Truck Pull Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m.
Antique Tractor Pull, Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8 a.m.,
Stock and Super Stock 4-Wheel Drive Truck Pull Thursday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m.
Out of Field Tractor Pulls, Friday, Aug. 26, at 10 a.m. & 7 p.m..
Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Saturday, Aug. 27, at 11 a.m.
NYTPA Sanctioned Tractor Pull, Saturday, Aug. 27, noon & 7 p.m.
Stone Boat Pull Demo Saturday, Aug. 27, 4 p.m.
Stoneboat Pull Demo, Sunday, Aug. 28, at 1 p.m.
Kid’s Power Wheel Derby Sunday, Aug. 28, at 3:30 p.m.
Demolition Derby Sunday, Aug. 28, at 5 p.m.

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