“As long as the weather is good we’re happy,” said Bev Kantrowitz, publicity director for the Schaghticoke Fair, as she zipped around in a golf cart showing off the sights.
“It’s a beautiful fair,” she said, and Wednesday was a lovely late-summer opening day, with bright sunshine bringing out some pre-fall colors in a few trees.
Antique engines puttered in an exhibit outside the museum building. Inside, it was quiet at lunchtime, and blacksmith Dan Crowther was showing his 14-year-old daughter Sydney how to hammer hot metal into a hook. Crowther, a teacher at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland and a resident of Valley Falls, said the hook would eventually find a place on a wooden frame to hang up foodstuffs at re-enactment events of the Ancient Celtic Clans.
At one end of the commercial building, kids were playing Guitar Hero (with an anti-tobacco group), and free video games. Politicians had booths at the other end, including state Assemblyman Tim Gordon, an Independence Party member from Bethlehem, who was hammering up a rack to put fliers in. Nearby, Angela McDonald, wife of Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, was running a booth that included materials for her husband’s state Senate campaign.
In the Family Living Center, two artworks produced by Hoosic Valley life skills (special education) students were prominently displayed with first-place ribbons. They were inspired, a sign said, by a project on the 19th century painter Rufus Porter.
Joann Molesky, the judge who picked them out, agreed that they were also reminiscent of the work of a famous 20th century painter of local scenes, Grandma Moses. The high school students had included a sailing ship, inspired by Porter.
The larger art work by the elementary students was a Moses-like rural landscape.
There was a touch of controversy this month at county fairs across the state, when the state Department of Labor determined that a contractor, Portlock Maintenance Systems, had not been paying bathroom attendants, leaving them to be compensated solely by tips — and they did not even get to keep all of those.
The Labor Department said in an Aug. 23 press release that the Schaghticoke Fair and others had agreed to correct this, taking over the payment of the workers.
Labor Department spokesman Leo Rosales said the Schaghticoke Fair was now paying the attendants the state minimum wage of $7.15 per hour.
Fair secretary David Moore confirmed that the attendants are not receiving a lower rate than that — even though the law permits lower rates in certain cases where employees receive tips.
Demolition derby events are scheduled Sunday and Monday (Labor Day), as the fair winds down, and one of the participating cars, a pink Nissan Altima, was on display Monday as part of a fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society.
Mike Denio of Price Chopper, which with Whitney’s Auto Graveyard is a corporate sponsor of the fundraiser, said his 18-year-old daughter Elizabeth would be driving a pink Cadillac in the main event Monday.
Two Army National Guard soldiers from the 108th Infantry Regiment in Hoosick Falls, Pvt. Jonathan Neilen and Spc. Joel Harden, were giving away tickets for a drawing for Army gear, in a low-key recruitment effort. Neilen, 45, said he recently re-enlisted, in part for the educational benefits. They said they expect to be sent to Afghanistan next year.
On the midway, there were Ferris wheels, carousels and rollercoasters, a ride advertising zero gravity and one with a line outside called the Tidal Wave. That one had a beach theme, with a large advertising mural featuring bikini-clad women.
Amidst the carnival atmosphere was an artist, busily drawing people’s portraits for $20 ($10 extra for a frame).
Entry to the fair costs $10 for adults, with kids 13 and under free. Parking also is free, although some nonprofit groups have set up paid lots. The fair is on routes 67 and 40, eight miles east of Mechanicville.