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Lewis Fair cheese auction gets political boost

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LOWVILLE — A generous helping of political cheddar helped lead to a banner year for the 19th annual Lewis County Fair cheese auction Tuesday.

“That’s the most money we’ve ever taken in,” Gary P. Rosiczkowski, superintendent of the dairy industry building, said after learning of the $11,437 haul.

The event — in which 20-, 10- and 5-pound blocks of cheese donated by Kraft Foods and Lowville Producers Dairy Cooperative Inc. are auctioned off — brought in roughly $8,500 last year, Mr. Rosiczkowski said.

The “Big Cheese” award, given annually to the high bidder of the sole 20-pound chunk of cheddar cheese, went to a coalition made up primarily of the 16 Republicans seeking seats on the 10-member county Legislature this fall.

The winning bid was $2,002.

Even at $100.10 per pound, Lewis County Republican Chairman Roscoe K. “Rocky” Fawcett, who placed bids on the group’s behalf, said he felt the price was right.

“I think this is just a good play for the Republican legislative candidates,” he said.“They all contributed. I just think it’s great exposure for them. And anything that helps agriculture out is what this county is about.”

Proceeds go primarily to local youth agricultural activities, as well as upkeep on the dairy building.

After being outbid by the politicos, Kraft representative William M. Blunden, who bowed out after Mr. Fawcett topped his final bid of $2,001, announced that his company would contribute $2,000 as a match to the Republicans’ payment.

Auction revenues were bolstered by $1,000 from Lowville Farmers Cooperative Inc. and a $1,000 match from CoBank, a member of the Farm Credit System.

While cheddar cheese again dominated the auction, a few other cheese varieties also were sold, including a couple of blocks of chocolate cheese.

The concoction, donated by Lowville Producers, tastes similar to chocolate fudge, Mr. Rosiczkowski said.

“It’s disgustingly good,” he said.

Prior to the cheese auction, Louis Bodnar of Turin and Lynn Steiner of Lowville were presented with Dairy of Distinction awards, while retired farmer and assessor William Weller was presented with a Hall of Fame award.

The fair, which runs through Saturday, kicked off Tuesday morning with the opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting.

“It’s remarkable to see this fair come together,” said Dr. Harry P. O’Connor, president of the Lewis County Agricultural Society, which operates the county fairgrounds.

He commended all the directors, volunteers and local officials who help make the annual event a success.

The first day of festivities concluded with the annual fair parade and a fireworks show.

The theme of the 193rd version of the Lewis County Fair is “Food, Fun and Family at the Fair,” and admission remains free.

Today is Children’s/Dairy Day at the fair.

Events will include a baby show at 9:30 a.m., North Country Idol performances at 6 p.m., a 4x4 truck pull at 6:30 p.m., Barnyard Olympics at 7 p.m. and the Salt City Polka Band at 9 p.m.

Free shows of Ditsy the Clown, at 2, 4 and 7 p.m., and Kachunga and the Alligator Show, at 3 and 6 p.m., will run daily.

Other grandstand events include a state truck and tractor pull on Thursday, a concert featuring both Greg Bates and the Outlaws on Friday and a demolition derby on Saturday.

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