Jefferson County Fair starts this week with old favorites, new animal shows

From left, Steve Close, Robert Stackhouse and Jimmy Rhodes set up their lemonade tent in preparation for the Jefferson County Fair, which starts Tuesday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

From left, Steve Close, Robert Stackhouse and Jimmy Rhodes set up their lemonade tent in preparation for the Jefferson County Fair, which starts Tuesday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

This week, all in the same day even, a trip to the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds will enable you to interact with an exotic bird, ride a Sky Flyer, see a miniature stallion take a bow, watch a “brawl” while listening to “head-banging rock” and pick apart a jumbo sticky bun.

The Jefferson County Fair — the oldest continually running fair in the nation — has descended on the city for its 197th running Tuesday through Sunday off Coffeen Street.

“Every year it’s a combination of new and the same,” said Robert D. Simpson, fair president. “We’re going to have a good fair,” he said as setup kicked into high gear over the weekend, noting he hopes as many as 55,000 people attend.

One new attraction this year is the “Horses, Horses, Horses” show by Sarasota, Fla.-based performer Lisa A. Dufresne, which features 12 miniature stallions, a Friesian from Holland and a black Arabian performing a variety of stunts. Ms. Dufresne’s horses have traversed the U.S. and have performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, her website says. The show, free with admission, runs at 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve been trying to get it for several years,” Mr. Simpson said of the act. “We were finally able to book it this year.”

Ms. Dufresne said the 30- to 35-minute “variety show of horses” features five or six different acts. “It’s quite entertaining for everyone — adults and children alike,” she said Sunday.

Also new this year is “Westy’s Birds of Prey,” an interactive show of exotic birds with master falconer Rick West, of Adams.

A new non-animal-related attraction is “Brawlapalooza,” “a rock and rumble event” set for 6 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 to the show, which features seven mixed martial arts bouts and three bands — My Poor Brain, a tribute to the Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Co-Pilots, a tribute to STP, and Wrapped in Noir.

Mr. Simpson said the popular demolition derbies will return at 7 p.m. Thursday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. A 2CW wrestling event returns at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15.

As always, livestock and 4-H events will feature prominently. New this year is an open-carrier rabbit show on Sunday, which could draw as many as 300 well-groomed rabbits, many from out of the area, said Beth Shelmidine, first vice president of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society.

“We have a lot of competitions for everything from cattle to sheep and goats and chickens and rabbits,” she said.

This year’s rides also are a combination of traditional and novel. The Orbiter, a popular ride that Mr. Simpson said has been gone from the fair for some time, will return. The Wild Claw, the Sky Flyer and the Super Himalaya also will be featured, and a ride called Zero Gravity is new this year.

Other attractions include a roving balloon artist, daily contests and an array of traditional fair cuisine, including a new vendor, Mr. Sticky’s Sticky Buns.

On Sunday, as multicolored neon tents billowed under pristine blue skies, Lauren M. Clark, who will turn 14 on the first day of the fair, and her father were giving a fresh coat of white paint to their wooden animal pens, which will house two llamas and two meat goats. She said it will be her fifth year attending the fair with her animals, but only her second with goats, and this year she’s bringing a 4-month-old baby goat. “I will be breeding it,” she said. She added that she enjoys the livestock shows for children at night, and works at the dairy bar during the fair.

Under another yellow-and-white tent, Jason and Holly Schell, of Schell Farms, Philadelphia, were painstakingly hammering the letters of the sign for their booth, which will be staffed by their two daughters, Cassidy, 14, and Macie, 20.

“They do pretty much all of the work taking care of the animals the whole week,” Mrs. Schell said. In its fourth year attending, the farm is bringing 10 cows of various ages.

She said her daughters enjoy the numerous 4-H and FFA activities, such as a “milk-off” competition. “They have a blast,” she said.

Not to be outdone, food vendors on Sunday assembled in prime spots to attract hungry patrons. Smokey’s BBQ, Chaumont, was readying its trailer and smoker. “It’s a good fair,” owner George A. Day said. “It gets better and better every year.”

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.jeffcofair.org.

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Getting all dolled up: American Girl doll enthusiasts flood Sackets Harbor

Caroline Abbott isn’t just a fictional character in the American Girl book and doll series; she has put the village of Sackets Harbor on the map.

Young girls in fancy dresses and hats with accompanying Caroline or other American Girl dolls attended receptions in July at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site to celebrate the character.

While some of the 120 guests Sunday were locals, most were from outside the state, even as far away as Kansas, Iowa and Tennessee.

Kathleen Ernst, author of the American Girl Caroline series, said Caroline lived during the War of 1812 in Sackets Harbor.

“I think the War of 1812 allowed her to have a lot of adventures,” Ms. Ernst said. “The real-life history gave us a lot to work with. I think one of the real joys of Caroline stories is it’s a balance of history and fiction.”

Hailing from Baltimore, Ms. Ernst considered basing the Caroline series in her home state, but felt “what happened here in the Great Lakes wasn’t as well known.”

Now, young girls are excited to travel to the village, learn about the war and experience the character’s life. Those who attended the receptions received American Girl bookmarks, autographs from Ms. Ernst and village maps to explore places Caroline might have gone.

“I feel as if the whole village here has been celebrating Caroline,” Ms. Ernst said.

To see a video of the event, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-l3L96QMvU.

— Rebecca Madden