Strong attendance Saturday and Sunday made the 172nd annual Saratoga County Fair “above average” in attendance despite last week’s heat wave, said Saratoga County Agriculture Society President William Schwerd.
Attendance figures were still being tabulated late Monday, but Schwerd acknowledged the numbers will be less than the 90,000 people who attended in 2012, when the fair had one of its strongest years.
The fair opened Tuesday morning and closed Sunday night. It is overseen by the agricultural society, which owns the 30-acre fairground at Prospect Street and Fairground Avenue.
“The first four days were difficult. By the time we got to days three and four, it had been a long, hot dry spell,” Schwerd said Monday. “Then we had really good attendance Saturday and Sunday, and that saved us.”
The fair always features farm and domestic animals, musical entertainment, educational displays, midway games and rides, and aromatic outdoor summer foods. The Saratoga County Fair has historically been the first of the half-dozen agricultural fairs held around the Capital Region, a summer tradition so many people look forward to.
Schwerd said a number of people tried to beat the heat by coming in the morning, leaving for the afternoon, and then coming back later. “It was a morning and night thing,” he said.
There were cooling stations around the grounds, but any entertainment act in a shady area was popular, he said, including Brad Matchett, a magician, balloon artist and comedy hypnotist who was the first hypnotist the fair has had in several years.
An exotic animal show, The Alaskan Grizzly Experience, featuring a 7-foot-tall adult grizzly and two younger bears, was also among the most popular shows, Schwerd said.
“It was the most low-key, effective program I’ve seen. It was educational,” Schwerd said. “I’m hopeful they can come back next year.”
The 173rd Saratoga County Fair in 2014 will be pushed back a week on the calendar, and will be held July 22-27. That will give an extra week for produce to grow, compared to the mid-July timing of the fair for the last 15 years.
“I’m excited because there should be a chance to take advantage of having more vegetables and horticultural exhibits,” Schwerd said.
The region’s next fair, chronologically, will be the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair, which opens Saturday and runs through Saturday, Aug. 3, in Cobleskill.
Also upcoming are the Altamont Fair, the agricultural exhibition for Schenectady, Albany and Greene counties, which will be held at the Altamont Fairground Aug. 13-18.
To the north, the Washington County Fair in Greenwich will run Aug. 19-25.
To the west, the Fonda Fair for Montgomery and Fulton counties is set to run Aug. 27-Sept. 2.
Rensselaer County’s Great Schaghticoke Fair will run Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds.
In Syracuse, meanwhile, the state’s biggest fair, the New York State Fair, will run for 12 days, from Aug. 22-Sept. 2. That fair attracts about 850,000 people annually, and a number of Capital Region residents make the 150-mile trip to Syracuse for the fair each year.