While opening day at Saratoga Race Course garners most of the attention, an even older local tradition returns this week. YNN’s Matt Hunter has a preview of this year’s Saratoga County Fair.
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – One day before the gates were due to open and the crowds rush in, it was already a sea of activity at the Saratoga County Fair.
For the team from Welcome Stock Farm in Schuylerville, it meant finalizing a list of seemingly non-stop preparations.
“Just to get your cow in show condition can take anywhere from two months to five months,” said Mary Foote, whose family owns and operates the dairy farm. “It’s not like the week before the fair, you’re thinking, ‘Yup, I’m going to come to the fair.’ There’s lots of preparation.”
Back for its 171st year, hundreds of organizers, staff, vendors and local farmers are gearing up for the week long showcase in Ballston Spa.
"People are coming in, the concessionaires, all of the acts are in place now, we're looking forward to a fantastic fair," fair president Bill Schwerd said.
As always, one of the biggest attractions are the dozens of rides. Crews worked quickly Monday to make sure they’d be ready for the crowds.
“The rides are designed to be moved in that amount of time and since everybody here works on it every week, we know how to move it at a good pace,” said Thomas Abod, who works for S&S Amusements.
While livestock like horses and cows are a common site every year, this year’s fair features some more exotic breeds. In addition to African animals like a zebra, fair attendees will be able to enjoy a new show featuring live sharks.
“Mostly the kids, the kids get a big kick out of this. They don’t expect what we do here to happen,” said Richard Pefley, who works for The Live Shark Encounter, which is believed to be the nation’s only show with a traveling 5,000 gallon shark tank.
The unusual creatures are all but sure to draw a crowd but the fair always has and always will be about agriculture.
It’s a rare chance for area farmers to showcase what they do year round in the county’s largest industry.
"This is really an opportunity to bring the community right in and really show them and as a farmer, I think that's one of the most important things we're doing during the fair," Foote said.
Daily admission to the fair is $10 but weeklong passes are available for $30. For more information, visit the Saratoga County Fair’s official saratogacountyfair.org .