It would be easy to mistake Susan Bennett for the official promoter of this year’s Schoharie County Sunshine Fair.
“Every day it’s something different,” the Richmondville resident said about the 137th installment of the eight-day event, which kicked off this year’s run Saturday.
As if reading from a laundry list by memory, Bennett talked excitedly about the different attractions she planned on seeing with her weeklong pass. Included on her itinerary was Wednesday night’s fireworks, Thursday evening’s performance by the band Flame and multiple visits to her mother’s exhibit.
Late Saturday afternoon, she was taking in the aftermath of the Big Cat Encounter show, where one of the show’s large feline stars, which was safely in a cage, repeatedly posed for pictures with fans. After the tiger raised its head for each photograph, it was rewarded with a piece of beef by charismatic animal trainer and show host Clayton Rosaire, who was still cracking jokes and being a showman.
Remarking on how unique the show was for a county fair, Bennett said, “I’ve been coming here for 20 years, and they’re always trying new things.”
Fair Director Doug Cater, who has been involved with the event since 1976, echoed this sentiment, saying they’re always striving to perfect the fan experience. This year, that meant the return of fireworks and a parade, both set for Wednesday.
The grand marshals of the parade will be Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, of Sharon Springs, stars of the reality show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” and winners of the CBS competition “The Amazing Race.” Cater said they would be around most of that day, as they were judging different events, as well.
Describing the overall attraction of the fair, he said, “It’s farm, family, friends. … It’s good, wholesome fun, basically.”
The familiar trappings of the fair included carnival games, rides, guilty pleasure foods like fried Oreos and fried dough, and livestock.
Jeffrey Weeks, of Mohawk, and his family brought goats, chickens, sheep and pigs to compete at the fair. On Saturday afternoon, the 16-year-old was hosing down his five pigs to keep them from overheating, noting that they’re incapable of sweating.
While the rest of his family also raises animals, he stands out as the only one involved with swine. He got his introduction to pigs from his grandfather, who bought him two when he was only 7 years old.
“I brought them home, and my mom wasn’t too happy about it,” he said.
Since then, he has continued to raise pigs, describing each day as a learning experience.
His pigs will be judged on characteristics such as length, quality of breed, shoulders, loin, rump and how they’re formed. When raising pigs to be judged, Weeks said, “There’s a whole bunch of things that you have to know and that you have to consider.”
Today’s events include a tractor pull, four installments of hot dog pig racing and a barrel race. Learn more about the fair and find a schedule of events at www.sunshinefair.org.