LOWVILLE Blistering humidity and the threat of thunderstorms did not stop members of the Lewis County Agricultural Society from donating their time to make the 193rd Lewis County Fair a success.
You get county fair in your blood and you cant get it out, said Dr. Harry P. OConnor, society president. Fortunately, we have a group here that actually likes to see the fair come together and be the best. Its not just the directors, but their wives and families. Very few get paid.
For all five days of the fair, which wrapped up Saturday, it was easy for guests to spot the vendors, rides, shows and food. But behind it all, the work of volunteers sometimes went unnoticed.
Thousands of hours are donated by volunteers in putting the fair together, said James Randall, fair director.
Several directors speculated that attendance was down due to the weather, with heat spiking to almost 90 degrees during the day, and several evenings of thunderstorms. But even when there were few patrons, the volunteers were there.
Many fairs have directors that direct. Our fair has directors that work, Mr. OConnor said.
Sunday morning, seven oclock, the directors will be here. Well have all the trash picked up by noon. ... The fair is in our hearts. Why you do it? Its that simple, said Bonnie B. Murphy, a fair director who traveled from Remsen each morning with her husband, Michael I., to help at the fair information booth.
The friendliness and dedication of the staff are not lost on fairgoers.
I havent missed a year since I was a kid, said Loren W. Jantzi, Martinsburg. Mr. Jantzi was there with his wife, Melissa R., and their 13-year-old daughter, Phoebe M. Its better than what it was in years past.
Id never let the kids go near the midway, recalled Mrs. Jantzi, who said she now has no problem walking the Coleman Bros. midway with her daughter.
Were the heartbeat of the Lewis County Fair, Mrs. Murphy said while offering a young boy the chance to get out of the sprinkling rain by stepping under the information booth awning.
The fair featured several new and traditional attractions this year. The inaugural King Arthur Flour baking contest on Saturday had a dozen participants and was deemed a fun experience by Dr. OConnor, who also judged. I really hope we can get this contest to grow, he said.
The free Kachunga and the Alligator Show and Ditsy the Clown were popular acts.
Following Tuesdays parade, attendants once again filled the fairgrounds to watch a spectacular fireworks show put on by Shawn M. Ebersol.
For 12 years, Mr. Ebersol has been providing pyrotechnics to fairgoers though oddly enough, he hasnt seen the show himself.
I cant remember the last time I watched a show, Mr. Ebersol said. I get so engrossed in my work, I hardly even get a chance to look up.
New this year were back-to-back concerts by Greg Bates and the Outlaws, which were delayed Friday evening due to rain; the shows began around 10 p.m. Attendance for the music was lower than anticipated, but that could be attributed to the weather warnings, organizers said.
Fairgoers also enjoyed the Twin Flip, a new ride recently sold to Coleman Bros.