June 19, 2007
County Fair Celebrates Our Agricultural Heritage
One of Oswego County's most popular summertime attractions is celebrating its 150th anniversary next week. Beginning Friday, June 29, and ending Wednesday, July 4, the Oswego County Fair in Sandy Creek is a true old-fashioned agricultural fair.
There are tractor pulls, skillet and hay bale throwing competitions, draft horses, harness races, and a demolition derby. Kids still get up early to groom their horses, clean the rabbit cages, and comb the cows for the junior agricultural competitions. Buildings are filled with historic displays, quilts and flowers, and merchandise of all types. Crowds cheer the drivers in the demolition derby, and the midway is filled with carnival rides, cotton candy stands and the mouth-watering scents of chicken barbecue. On July 4, the fair closes with a traditional fireworks display.
The fairgrounds, which are located on county Route 15 near the village of Sandy Creek, are clean and well-maintained, with modern buildings and well-kept grounds. The facility is used many times through the year for other events as well.
Although agriculture has always been an important piece of our county's heritage, many people may not realize that the county fair nearly shut down for good in 1981. Several people in the community worked hard to find the necessary support needed to keep the fair going. They convinced the County Legislature and other organizations to help out by replacing some of the older buildings and began a very ambitious and successful plan to improve the facility's infrastructure.
Leading that effort was Jerry Thomas, a longtime resident of Sandy Creek. Jerry and his wife, Maryhelen, have served their community tirelessly since they settled in Sandy Creek in 1968. Jerry served as a member of the Oswego County Legislature from 1984 to 1991 and again from January 2004 to April of this year. Maryhelen was elected to several terms as town clerk and more recently as tax collector.
Jerry remained involved in the fair association and served many years as its president. Last fall he was instrumental in obtaining $86,000 from state Senator James Wright and Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava for a new livestock barn at the fair.
Several other members of our County Legislature are also involved in the fair. They include District 2 Legislator Milferd Potter, board member and former vice president, District 3 Legislator Shawn Doyle, fair historian and superintendent of the Heritage Building, and District 16 Legislator Paul Santore.
I applaud the many volunteers who work throughout the year to make the fair a vibrant and successful family event. Agriculture is still a very important part of our community, and the County Fair in Sandy Creek still gives us the opportunity to experience it firsthand. For a complete schedule, visit the Web site at www.oswegocountyfair.org.
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