SARATOGA COUNTY — The sun broke through the clouds as two draft horses entered the horse ring at the Saratoga County Fair Tuesday, carrying the family of Galway Town Supervisor Paul Lent, who was killed in June following in agricultural incident.
"This year is very different," said Tammy Ballestero, president of the Saratoga County Agricultural Society, referring to the deaths of Lent and the death of Executive Director Jeff Townsend in May. "We decided to pull together to be 'fair family strong.' These people have worked too hard to see us fail."
Tuesday's memorial began the six-day Saratoga County Fair in Ballston Spa.
Lent, a fair board member, owned two percheron draft horses and showed them at the fair.
At Tuesday's memorial, Ballestero said all horse events at this year's fair, as well as a new horse washing system are dedicated to Lent.
"It's a tremendous honor to be here," said Lent's wife, Sue. "He was always really busy during the fair, but he loved doing it."
Lent's son, Devon, drove nearly all night Monday from Lexington, Kentucky, to surprise his family for the memorial.
"It's good to see this and the lives he's touched," Devon said, while looking around the fairgrounds. "I've been coming here since I was a kid and showed horses here with my father."
Devon, a graduate of Saratoga Springs High School and a farrier, or equine hoof care specialist, said his father is partly the reason he chose his career.
"My dad and I did a lot together," he said. "Being here [at the memorial], there's so much he did that I didn't know about."
Sen. Jim Tedisco called Lent a "public service jack-of-all-trades."
Lent was a former director of the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services, former member of the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office, and served on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors until the time of his death.
Charlton Town Supervisor Alan Grattidge presented a check for $2,000 from the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to Ballestero at Tuesday's memorial.
"After his passing, I asked for contributions and got a huge response," Grattidge said. "I wanted to do something in memory of Paul for his dedicated service."
Grattidge said he considered Lent a Charlton resident, as he lived on a property next to the town line.
"My daughters owned goats, and one day at the fair, Paul came out with Ranger, a giant black percheron draft horse," he said. "Also, when I became supervisor, I worked with him on several projects, and we became close friends."
Lent's legacy, according to Grattidge, is family and community.
"When you look at the body of his work, his public service to the community and dedication to his family, and how much he loved the fair and horses he had ... you remember Paul by all the different things he was into," he said.
The Saratoga County Fair runs from 9 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Sunday.
Admission is $12 for adults, and children under 52 inches and active military members are free. Retired military members will receive a 25 percent discount. Unlimited ride wristbands can be purchased for $20, and season passes are available for $30 for the week per person. Wednesday is Senior Day, so those over the age of 65 will pay $5 for admission.
For more information, call (518) 885-9701 or visit www.saratogacountyfair.org.