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Monroe County Fair returns to Northampton Park
Plans are well underway for this summer’s Monroe County Fair set for July 31 through August 3. For the second year, the fair will be held at the festival site area in Northampton Park in Ogden.
“We want to bring kids and families to a natural setting,” says Sarah Colby, a member of the Monroe County Fair and Recreation Association board.
Also like last year, Colby says the fair will continue to stay close to its roots as a celebration of youth, agriculture and technology in Monroe County.
In fact, Colby says having the fair at Northampton is reminiscent of how Monroe County fairs were held during the 19th century. With no set fairgrounds in the county, the agricultural fair rotated on a circuit between various municipal parks. Brockport was part of that circuit, she says.
“We’re going back to how it was 100 years ago,” Colby notes. “We’re in for a few days, and then it’s over.”
Many new events are planned for this year’s fair including an Alpaca Show. Colby says Alpaca products will also be available for sale. Fairy Gardens are a new exhibit class and instead of being awarded prizes by judges, the pint-sized and popular gardens will be judged by “people’s choice.” Colby says that means people attending the fair can vote on their favorite to select the winners.
The layout of the fair will also be slightly different with home/arts exhibits being shown in the ski lodge.
“We want people to come and see the exhibits,” Colby says.
She explains that the Fair Association would eventually like to build a couple of lodges with electricity for fair use, but so far improvements include drainage, a horse ring, clearing of brush and repainting of the ski lodge.
There are both 4-H and open shows for livestock, flowers, vegetables and home/fine arts exhibits, Colby explains. That means anyone can show an exhibit at the fair. Like to bake? Enter a pie. Have a garden? You can enter your flowers and veggies. There are open classes for both youth and adult.
“Open shows are open to everyone,” Colby says. “There is a class for baked goods, flowers, veggies.” Entry forms are available on-line at www.mcfair.com. Most exhibits need to be entered by July 10; however, Colby says things like flowers and vegetables can be entered the day of show. If you’ve got some nice tomatoes, you can take them to the fair and see how they stack up against those of your neighbor.
“A young person may be a budding artist, cook, or gardener. These hobbies could be careers in the future,” Colby explains. Participation in the fair can help fuel those interests. She adds that a county fair is also a stepping stone for the New York State Fair. “You have to go to a county fair to go to state fair,” she says. By showing an exhibit at the county fair level, exhibitors may qualify to show their exhibit at the state fair in Syracuse.
4-Hers and their exhibits are also a big part of the fair. “We want to grow the program in general,” Colby says.
Tara Defendorf-Kuba, a 4-H Youth Development Educator with Monroe County Cornell Cooperative Extension, says 4-Hers have the opportunity to show more than livestock at the fair.
“Photography, home arts, crafts, vegetables and flowers are all open to 4-H youth,” she says. “We also want to offer increased teen leadership opportunities to promote the 4-H program and to interact with the public.”
4-Hers will present a fashion review of sewing projects and 4-H scholarships are also available, Defendorf-Kuba says.
She notes 4-H programs provide outstanding opportunities for youth ages 5-19, including animal projects, crafts, community service, environmental science, technology and public speaking.
Defendorf-Kuba grew up in 4-H. “4-H is still out there doing a lot of really good life-changing programs,” she says.
Contact the Monroe County Cooperative Extension office at 461-1000 for more information.
New this year at the fair will be a “Squash-A-Pult” competition – something like pumpkin-chucking Colby says, but because the fair is too early for most pumpkins to be ready, squash will be “chucked” instead. The squash will be cut into launch-able size pieces. Rules for the event are on the fair website. “Bring your extra zucchini,” Colby says.
Other events planned for the fair include live bands – Cherry Bomb and the Johnny Bauer Band – crowing contests, tractor pulls, livestock shows, horse shows, robotics, cow pie bingo and more.
Local food vendors again will be featured and include LuGia’s Ice Cream, the Brockport Rotary selling sweet corn and salt potatoes and Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzaria in Spencerport is also expected to attend. A Farmers Market with local growers will make fresh, locally grown produce available to fair goers.
As a community project, knitted and sewn hats and mittens, sizes premie – large child, will be collected Monday, July 28 at the ski lodge from 9 a.m. to noon. The items will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. Fair organizers say the items can be entered in the Fabric and Home Arts competition and be shown at fair before being donated.
Colby noted that a group of residents near the park who are opposed to the fair being held at Northampton continue to appeal a judge’s decision last year which dismissed a lawsuit filed in an attempt to stop the fair from being held at the park.
She says the group is worried the event will eventually mirror fairs held at the Dome Arena in Henrietta.
That won’t happen, Colby says. “We will have a few inflatables and kiddie rides,” she says, but we’ve moved away from rides. There’s a carnival or festival somewhere every weekend in the summer where people can ride rides. We want to focus on what matters to us and what nobody else does.”
Admission to the fair is $7, $6 for Seniors. Children 12 and under are free and parking is also free. Admission gets you into all shows and exhibits, Colby says. “There is no gated-off area.”
Fair hours are 1-10 p.m., Thursday, July 31; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2; and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday, August 3. For information on the schedule of fair events, visit the www.mcfair.org website.