175th Columbia County Fair to blend tradition, today

CHATHAM – Wednesday, September 2 at noon the gates will swing open on a six-day, something-for-everyone celebration of the Columbia County Fair’s 175th anniversary.

During its run Wednesday, September 2 through Monday, Labor Day, September 7, families will converge on the Chatham Fairgrounds to celebrate the county’s agricultural heritage, reconnect with friends and neighbors, and enjoy over 200 exhibits, shows, contests, amusement rides and attractions.

Presented annually by the not-for-profit Columbia County Agricultural Society since 1840 in a field on the outskirts of Hudson, the fair is firmly rooted in the area’s farming community, but offers all the variety, excitement and family fun of a contemporary county fair.

An opening-day ceremony marking the anniversary will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the fairgrounds’ North Gate Stage. That evening, an 800 million candlepower, truck-mounted searchlight will scan the heavens, beckoning families to the fair as it did annually during the 1950s and 1960s.

A 175th anniversary fireworks display is set for the night of Sunday, September 6, following the 7 p.m. grandstand concert by award-winning country singer-songwriter Rodney Atkins. He will perform one show only, unlike past years when the headliner has done two.

Admission to the fair is $10/person Wednesday through Saturday, $12 on Sunday, and $10 on Monday. Children ages 12 and under get in free throughout the fair. Active military personnel with ID or in uniform are also admitted free. On Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, senior citizens will be admitted for $5 and youth ages 18 and under will be admitted free. Parking is free.

Amusements of America will offer 30 amusement rides this year, including some for the little kids. All-day ride passes will be offered each day.

The fair’s opening-day start time is earlier this year – noon instead of 3 p.m. Hours are Wednesday, September 2, noon to 11 p.m., and Thursday, September 3, through Monday, September 7, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Many families come to see the fair’s perennial showcase of agriculture – from dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and oxen to farm tractors, fruits and vegetables, and wool spinning.

Among new attractions this year are the Eudora Farms petting zoo, featuring camel rides; a Friday-night Freestyle Motocross stunt show; the “Mutts Gone Nuts” canine cabaret; the “Rowdy Rooster Roadster,” and lawn mower racing.

The 78th annual Schoolgirl Queen pageant is Friday, September 4, and the 64th annual Firefighters Parade takes place Saturday, September 5.

It’s not too late for amateur chefs to enter the Labor Day cooking contest, which this year is all about snacks made with local ingredients, coordinated by Columbia County’s own Nancy Fuller, host of the Food Network’s “Farmhouse Rules.”

Also returning are the “Columbia County’s Got Talent” contest, two nights of Demolition Derby, the Monster Tractor Pull, the Painted Pony Rodeo, and the Sue Wee Pig Races.

Among entertainment on the North Gate Stage will be “Agricadabra” which mixes magic with agricultural education, the Brad Matchett Comedy Hypnosis Show, and “Extreme Illusions and Escapes.”

On Thursday, September 3, from noon to 4 p.m., a Chatham Post Office representative will be on hand at the Information Booth just inside the North Gate entrance to apply a special cancellation commemorating the 175th anniversary to stationery brought by fairgoers.

175th anniversary souvenir t-shirts, mugs, glasses, tote bags and lapel pins will be sold.

Exhibits include school work, quilting, fruits and vegetables, photography, Grange, flowers, domestic arts and crafts, scarecrows, sunflowers, wool, and a wide variety of 4-H displays and presentations. At Heritage Village, visitors can witness handcrafts of yesteryear, including wood carving, paper marbling, book binding, basket weaving and candle making.

More details about the fair can be found at www.columbiafair.com.

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