Colorful carnival rides and the enticing smell of fried dough filled the Saratoga County Fairgrounds on Tuesday as the first county fair of the year in the Capital Region kicked off.
The 172nd Saratoga County Fair brought out hundreds of people on opening day, despite the brutal heat and humidity. But once they were there, some found the heat almost unbearable.
Kim Rosenberg came to the fair to see her daughter and niece compete in the Saratoga County Fair Pageant. She said the whole family comes each year. The family tried to stay positive about the heat, but as they wiped sweat from their foreheads, they questioned their decision to come.
“We had to come for the competition, but it is very hot,” Rosenberg said. “If we didn’t have that, we probably would not have come.”
Maddy Waring, 17, felt the same. She has been coming to the fair for years, but the heat had her nursing an ice cold drink while she sat at a picnic table with friends.
“It’s really hot,” she said. “Probably going to leave earlier than I was going to because of this heat.”
Sam Armar, 6, did not seem to mind the heat at all. He sipped lemonade underneath a pavilion on the fairgrounds, his eyes wide as he spoke about the carnival games he was going to play that night.
“The kids love it,” Ellen Armar, 38, Sam’s mother, said. “The kids want to see the animals and rides.”
While the Armar family took advantage of the shade and fresh-squeezed lemonade to beat the heat, others played in the sprinklers scattered throughout the fairgrounds.
“It is fun,” Tori Cuomo, 11, said. “Games … all the chances. Taking chances to win prizes.”
The fair will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight through Sunday. It is located off Prospect Street in Ballston Spa. General admission is $10 each day, and parking in the fair-managed lots is free.
The Live Music Pavilion has bands performing from 8 p.m. to midnight for ages 21 and older every day. On Tuesday, Eliminator played. Today, Chelsea Cavanaugh will perform, Thursday will be Skeeter Creek, Friday will be Vivid, Saturday will be Whiskey City and Sunday will feature Johnny and the Triumphs.
On Tuesday, free in the Grandstand was the JM Productions Demo Derby, which will be held again on Sunday. The NYTPA Tractor Pulls will be today, the Double M Western Pro Rodeo is featured Thursday and Friday and Saturday will be four-wheel-drive truck pulls. A horse show ring, grizzly bear experience and a lumberjack show are all featured at this year’s fair as well.
Carnival rides for both kids and adults were a favorite on opening day; with dozens of rides, there was something for everyone. The R.W. Commerford & Sons Petting Zoo drew a crowd with donkeys, monkeys, a zebra, pony and camel rides as the main attractions.
As he dug into a burrito bowl, Joe Amorosi, 21, said the fair food was enough for him.
“I come for the food every year,” he said. “Mexican food.”
Food vendors at the fair this year include everything from Giffy’s BBQ to Italian and Mexican. But a preferred favorite is the fried dough. For more than 70 years, the smell of Angela’s Fried Dough has lured in fairgoers.
Tonio Viscusi, 22, the third-generation owner and Angela’s grandson, ran the stand on opening day.
“I always see familiar faces every year,” he said. “We always get returning customers.”
Angela has three stands at the fair, two selling fried dough and one offering pizza. Viscusi said he likes this fair in particular because of the atmosphere.
“People are always wanting to come back,” he said. “This is our hometown fair.”