Columbia County Fair prepares for 175th summer

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Chatham, N.Y. >> From Wednesday to Monday of Labor Day weekend, follow the scent of cows and cotton candy to the 175th Columbia County Fair in Chatham, N.Y., with more than 200 shows, exhibits, contests, amusement rides, animals and attractions.

Well-tended cows, goats, sheep, pigs and ponies will fill show rings and milking stalls while rabbits and brightly feathered poultry show off prize ribbons. Artisans from blacksmiths to weavers will demonstrate crafts in the Heritage Village, and 4-H students will pour fresh milkshakes beside sputtering antique engines.

From high on the Ferris Wheel, lights race along spinning rides as the midway bustles with scents of fried dough and corn dogs and games of skill. Sounds travel across the grounds: country music star Rodney Atkins, screeching Demolition Derby wheels, thundering rodeo horses.

This year, the fair will celebrate its anniversary by reviving past traditions. A WWII-era 800 million candlepower searchlight will scan the skies on opening night, and "Floral Floats" will join the annual Firefighters' Parade.

Spokesman Jim Calvin considered the fair's success.

"It's family-oriented," he said, "and it's big enough to appeal to a wide range of people but small enough to be manageable. And we have made a concerted effort to retain and even expand the agricultural roots of the fair."


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