Rain and gray skies didn’t bother Frances Ripley on Tuesday.
“I’ve been coming here for nearly 40 years,” said Ripley, 93, as she sat spinning fleece into yarn at the Altamont Fair. “They’ve adopted me into the shepherds’ family, these people are always friendly. They kind of treat me special.”
The annual six-day exhibition sponsored by Schenectady, Albany and Greene counties opened Tuesday, and morning rain persuaded some people to skip or delay visits to Ripley, agriculture centers and the midway. The rain was mostly gone by early afternoon, and adults and children walking the grounds enjoyed warm breezes and occasional breaks of sunshine.
“It was a soft start as opposed to the roaring start that I always want,” said Pat Canaday, a member of the fair’s board of directors. “We’re optimistic it’s going to be a great year.”
By late afternoon, Canaday also said, more people were coming into the fairgrounds.
“People will respond to better weather,” she said.
Teenagers walked the midway in small groups. Christine Myers, 15, of Altamont rode Speed, a long, slender propeller-shaped ride that swung people strapped into seats on the end into the sky, then swiftly brought them to earth on the return swing.
“We can literally see our house, we live like a block away,” Myers said, adding that cloudy skies were not a concern — they were actually a benefit.
“This way, there’s no line for the rides,” she said.
Ride operators and other people on the midway tried to entice people into trying attractions such as the skill games and mechanical adventures like Haunted Mansion, Cliff Hanger and Gravitron, the latter a lighted, spinning bowl that resembles a science-fiction spaceship. Some talked about the rainy conditions.
“I’m not a weather reporter,” said “Mina,” who tells fortunes and offers psychic readings. “Come back later, I’ll give you more information, I’ll let you know how the fair is going.”
For others, rain and clouds were not going to ruin a day at the fair.
“We’ve been planning this for weeks and weeks and weeks,” said Ellen Young of Voorheesville, as she waited for her daughter Julia, 8, to spin out of the Gravitron. “My husband is a meteorologist. He studied the map and he said the rain would end and there would be a good portion of the day with good weather.”
Frances Ripley — “Believe it or not,” she said during an introduction — also planned her trip in advance. The former Altamont resident and 1938 graduate of Altamont High School left her home in Olean on Monday, boarding a bus at 9:45 a.m. She arrived in Albany at 6:10 p.m. and was glad to be sitting at her wooden spinning wheel Tuesday afternoon.
Dressed in a long, pale blue skirt and a blue print blouse, Ripley said she likes showing visitors how to spin yarn.
“Children are wonderful, their minds are open,” she said. “You can show them and teach them, and it’s great fun.”
Jan Kondracki of Averill Park had two of those children — her granddaughters, 10-year-old twins Alyssa and Brianna Kondracki of Mechanicville.
“We just had to be here,” Kondracki said, adding her husband, Stan, was also part of the party. “They had to see all the animals, horses and dogs, and then sheep, goats. That just about covers them all.”
Nathan Farnan, 12, of East Berne, sat with his brother Patrick’s tom turkey, Swede, outside the 4-H milkshake stand. Patrick was working the dairy counter, and Nathan decided to borrow Swede from the poultry exhibition center for an advertising campaign.
“I brought him out to get attention for the milkshake stand,” Nathan said.
Swede offered a few clucks of endorsement.
The fair runs through Sunday. Gates for the general public open at 10 a.m., and the midway opens at noon.