NORWICH – The 161st Chenango County Fair will kick off today with an array of activities and events for the entire family to enjoy.
This year, event organizers have added to the fair’s familiar line up, including a new concert series, a motocross stunt show and a free circus performance.
Gates at the fairgrounds opened at 9 a.m. today with free admission and a focus on senior citizens. The free day at the fair is sponsored by Smith Ford LLC, the Giant’s Warehouse, and NBT Bank.
“We will have special programs throughout the fairgrounds to promote Senior Citizens’ Day,” said Fair Board President Mary Weidman.
From 1 to 4 p.m. today, horse enthusiasts will have the opportunity to watch grandstand harness racing as the New York State Sire Stakes Races get underway.
The 4-H and Firemen’s Parade will begin at 6:30. The parade will progress down East Main Street and toward the fairgrounds. Following the parade, a free Chenango County Blues Concert will be held featuring Terrence Simien and the Zydeco Experience.
Wednesday will be Children’s Day. and admission to the fairgrounds will be free for children 12 and under from noon until 5 p.m. There will be a bicycle drawing inside the entertainment tent at 5 p.m.
Weidman said there are events taking place in the entertainment tent throughout the week, including the Chenango County Beauty Pageant on Wednesday, a New York State Talent Show contest on Thursday and Friday, a rock and roll concert called Ruby Shooz on Saturday and a country music concert by Route 66 and Terry Grimes on Sunday.
This year, fair organizers, Millennia Entertainment and WBKT- 95.3 Big Kat Country have joined forces to bring nationally-recognized recording artist Sarah Johns to the fair. Johns, who just ended a tour with country music star Toby Keith, will perform at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Local singer Cassidy Lynn will open for Johns.
“We want it (a national act) to become a series, in addition to what is offered at the fair,” said Terry Potter of Millennia Entertainment.
The excitement is expected to continue Thursday with Grange Day. The county tractor pull kicks off at 10 a.m. Evening entertainment will begin at 7 p.m., with the New York Tractor Pull Association (NYTPA) show.
Friday will be Children’s Day and Agricultural Awareness Day. Children will be admitted free until 5 p.m. Friday will bring another new event to the fair with the U.S. FMX Motocross Championship. The motorcycle stunt show will begin at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. Admission is $5. The fairgrounds will be open until 1 a.m. on Friday for Midnight Madness.
Saturday, the fair will present a day of tractor pulls and fun for ATV enthusiasts. An antique tractor pull will be held at 9 a.m. in the South Track. ATV racing will be held at 9 a.m. in the grandstand, and the NYTPA Tractor Pull for trucks and super farm tractors will be held at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. Admission will be $5.
Sunday, the demolition derby will be held at 1 and 7 p.m. in the grandstand. Admission is $5.
Free daily events include Hansen’s Aerial Act, Sportsman’s Club activities, an antique tractor display, demonstrations and the mid-way, provided by Coleman Brothers.
“With the gas prices the way they are, people will not have to travel far to discover their world,” said Chenango County Agricultural Association member David Law. “There are many events in Chenango County,” said Law. “You just have to find them.”
A new equine program has been approved for the fair, and with money from a state grant, J.D. Winslow Equestrian Entertainment will be in attendance behind the grandstand with his one-of-a kind equine show. The performances, given daily, mix circus-type riding with the ability to command and ride rare breeds bareback. Demonstrations will be given by Winslow, the owner and rider himself.
Wild ponies from Assateague Island will be featured daily from noon until 5 p.m.
Agricultural awareness, as always, is a large portion of what the county fair is all about, Weidman said.
“Each year, 4-H members from throughout the county look forward to the Chenango County Fair and the opportunity to exhibit their projects from the past year,” said Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Educator Janet Pfromm. “With well over 200 youth, ages 5 to 19, in 4-H clubs this year, display of exhibits is guaranteed to be diverse and exciting,” she said.
Youth exhibits will be on display in the Harry L. Case Building and various animal barns.
Throughout the week, individual 4-H members, as well as clubs, will give public presentations in the Case Building, and a pet show will be held on opening day. All events and classes are open to Chenango County 4-H members.
Admission prices are $5 for adults 18 and over and $3 for children age 6 to 17. Children under 5 are admitted free. Season passes are available now for $15 for adults and $12 for children. For more information visit the fair’s web site at www.chenangocountyfair.homestead.com or call 334-9198.
– Jill Kraft