There was plenty of sunshine at this year’s Sunshine Fair in Cobleskill.
“We only got two days of rain,” said fair board Vice President Sandi Emanuel. “The other five were great.”
All that good weather drew 15 percent more people to the annual Schoharie County festivities than last year, she said, though she would not give exact tallies.
The fair wrapped up Saturday night following a full week of tractor pulls, animal displays and Hilby the Skinny German Juggling Boy tossing his clubs.
Emanuel said it was a major success, both as an event and as economic stimulus.
“It means a lot to our area,” she said. “People come here for the fair, buy from our local vendors and maybe buy from them again after the fair.”
Talking to the full range of vendors as they packed up, she said those large crowds were willing to spend some money.
“We had the Skeeter Creek band playing in the entertainment tent Friday night,” she said, “and we sold more refreshments that night than we did during all of last year’s fair. Of course, last year we had four days of rain.”
And it wasn’t just the refreshments, Emanuel said. Vendors told her they sold out of high-end items as well as the cheaper stuff.
Like most county fairs, the Sunshine Fair breaks down into essentially two parts: There’s farm animals and there’s everything else, such as rides, vendors and German Juggling Boy.
According to Cornell Cooperative Extension agriculture program leader David Cox, both sides of the fair did well this year.
Cox spent the fair in the “Progress Land” building teaching scores of passersby about Schoharie County family farms.
“You only get about seven seconds to get someone’s attention,” he said, “so we simplify the message. We want people to know where their food comes from.”
The more people who come for the entertainment, the more Extension personnel and 4-H kids can spread farm awareness. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
“There’s no way we could re-create these numbers on our own,” Cox said.
Now the fairgrounds are empty and all cleaned up again, according to Emanuel. With another successful event behind her, she’s looking ahead to next year.
“It’s a relief to have it done for this year,” she said, “but it’s a year-round thing.”
Based on its popularity this year, the Skeeter Creek band was booked immediately for next year, and Emanuel is looking for other acts and vendors.
Some of the crowds were likely brought in by a solid advertising effort, with TV spots and a few billboards. Those, too, must be lined up for the coming year.
The one thing fair planners can’t schedule is probably the largest factor in their success.
“We always hope for good weather,” Emanuel said.