The big tents are going up, and the grandstand, livestock sheds and display buildings are spruced up and ready for crowds of animals and people, as the 132nd annual Schoharie County Sunshine Fair gets set to open at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Horses of all sizes will be a daily part of the six-day fair, notes fair board President Doug Cater.
About 77,000 people attended last year’s fair and, based on higher advance season-pass sales, Cater hopes for an even bigger gate this year.
“We have a lot to offer people,” he said. Inquiries have been coming in from around the state as people plan their travel, Cater said.
“Maybe with the gas prices, people aren’t going to travel so far on vacations,” he speculated Friday, so that might mean more regional visitors who didn’t go away this summer.
Among his other duties, Cater is the track announcer for the Wednesday harness races.
One-mile-long harness races will feature the New York Sire Stakes program beginning at noon Wednesday as trotters hit the half-mile circuit to share a purse of more than $20,000, Cater said.
Wednesday’s national CKG Billings Amateur Driver Racing Series includes drivers building points toward the fall finals at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
On Tuesday, at least six six-horse hitches of big draft horses will compete in the infield, beginning at 1 p.m.
Among other horse events is the daily “Horses, Horses, Horses” show of eight miniature horses.
The usual assortment of cows, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits and other livestock will also be vying for ribbons in the 4-H barns.
Fair competition kicks off with the 4-H horse show at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Events wrap up with the crowd-pleasing automotive demolition derby beginning 7:30 p.m. Aug 10.
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, professional bull riding will be held instead of the varied rodeo of past years. Bull riders have proved the most popular, Cater said, so this year’s show features only them.
Regular fairgoers will notice some changes this year, as the Royal Hannaford Circus has been replaced by the smaller Wambold’s Circus Menagerie, which combines circus highlights with education about animals, Cater said.
Another new addition to the daily entertainment will be comedic acrobats of the “Dueling Pirates High Dive Water Show” dueling as they dive off an 80-foot-high platform.
“This is something you’d usually see only at a large theme park, not a fair,” Cater said.
Other entertainment includes the amateur American Idol-style competitions Tuesday and Sunday.
Featured performer this year is country star Daryle Singletary, with 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday shows.
The Tokens, The Diamonds and The Refrigerators, as well as tribute bands covering the music of Johnny Cash and The Eagles will perform on various days.
While adult admission to the fairgrounds is up $2 this year to $12, Cater said other ticket adjustments, including free parking ($5 for RVs), will lower overall costs for many families of four.
With children younger than 13 admitted free this year, combined with eliminating the previous $2 parking fee, two adults and two young children will pay a total of $24 this year, a $2 decrease per family.
People age 62 and older will pay $10 admission, or only $8 during Wednesday’s 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. senior citizen day, a new discount this year, Cater said.
Season passes offer another discount opportunity at $35 for all six days ($30 seniors). Three-day passes are also available for $20 ($15 seniors).
Midway rides are additional, with discount stamps available Thursday and Sunday.
This will be the last Cobleskill fair for the Gillette family carnival and midway, as they are being replaced by another midway next year.
Full schedules and information are online at www.sunshinefair.com.