ANGELICA — Not averse to Tuesday’s showers, Allegany County Fair attendees continued to enjoy all aspects of the fair.
A record turnout was reported by Allegany County Fair president Karen Tripp, who said opening day brought 2,697 visitors, an increase of 645 from last year.
Numbers had not been fully tallied for Tuesday, but Tripp predicted similar levels of attendance for the fair’s 175th year.
Tripp thanked all the fair’s organizers, specifically the directors, superintendents and other individuals who make it all possible.
“A lot of the people here have full-time jobs and they do it all for free because they love the fair,” Tripp said.
“There are always a few hiccups, but nothing major,” Tripp said, describing preparations for the fair’s opening events. “It was pretty good overall.”
Tuesday’s intermittent showers — and eventual thunderstorms — did, however, produce a few hiccups. Lightweight brackets were nearly finished at the pony pull when sprinkles began to fall. Undeterred at first, registrants and their teams of horses persisted until the track became muddy and hazardous to the horses around 2:30 p.m. Officials decided to postpone further pulls and later determined that the track was unsafe.
“We always take safety seriously at the fair,” said Tripp. “It has to be safe for the horses and it has to be safe for the drivers. But I am glad that it started out as a nice day.”
“It’s typical for the fair, but we manage,” said Deb Bliven, a vendor who owns D-Zine Graffix in Belmont. Bliven and her daughter, Megan, recounted being at the fair two years ago when a tornado touched down a few miles away.
Indeed, few attendees let the weather get the best of them. Some took shelter under at the Mini Theater pavilion, where several local acts entertained guests including youth performer Felicity Morrison, youth vocalists Rachel Ocasio and Noah Briglin, Heidi Noel’s Performing Arts Center of Wellsville and acoustic group Ellen & The Healers.
“Every year we try to showcase local talent,” said Becky Freeman-Brauen, who has supervised the Mini Theater with her mother, Angee Freeman, for a collective 21 years. “All our acts here come from Allegany County and similar areas. And we’ve had people from Allegany County go to state talent competitions.”
More shows are scheduled throughout the week, which culminate in the Allegany County Talent Show at 11 a.m. Saturday.
When asked if the weather Tuesday was a distraction, Freeman-Brauen replied, “Nothing slows down when it’s raining. No matter what the weather is it’s a great spot for entertainment.”
Others spoke with Allegany County Federation of Sportsmen representatives in a dedicated barn housing 16 local clubs from around the county.
“It’s a win-win for us,” said Scio gun club representative Bill Hadsell. “We get exposure to the community and they get to see what we’re about. And it’s a great way to get youth interested in firearm safety and education.”
Shooters Committee on Political Education (S.C.O.P.E) speakers held open conversations with those interested in learning more about second amendment rights and voter registration.
Between showers, attendants played carnival games, rode rides and grabbed funnel cake, lemonade and other fair staples.
“It’s good for us, I guess,” said Hannah Legacy, a volunteer at the Friendship Central School sponsored concession stand, as she waited on several customers seeking shelter from a brief lunch-time drizzle. “This is a good opportunity for students from Friendship to earn credit toward their senior trip,” she said, helping her brother, Elijah, cover a busy counter. Legacy volunteered all four years during high school and continues to help out as she studies journalism at St. Bonaventure.
Allegany County Fair events continue today with special activities for Children’s Day. Among other events, a youth dairy show begins at 9 a.m., a baby contest takes place at the Mini Theater at 11 a.m. and Bwana Jim will present his wildlife show from noon to 4 p.m. General admission is $6, which includes access to demonstrations, commercial and animal exhibits and grandstand events.