Something for Everyone at the Washington County Fair

8/24/2013 7:00 AM
By Paul Post New York Correspondent

GREENWICH, N.Y. — Brad McEachron gets ready for a youth dairy contest the same as a high school football game or track meet.

It takes weeks of hard work and practice, and he never gets tired of winning.

McEachron, 15, of Cornerrest Farm in Granville, N.Y., was one of the many entrants at this year’s Washington County Fair, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 25.

“It really gets me excited. I’m very competitive. I don’t like losing. I think she likes it, too,” he said, while grooming his 2-year-old cow, Maxine.

Last year, just shy of her first birthday, Maxine was named junior champion at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland, Vt.

She and McEachron took part in three separate events at the Washington County Fair, which is New York’s third largest county fair behind Erie and Dutchess counties.

When not busy taking care of his animals, McEachron finds plenty of other fun things to do at the fair.

“I just like hanging out here, being with friends, going on rides and eating fair food,” he said.

To farm families, the camaraderie that comes with this annual weeklong event is also a major attraction.

“I like showing against friends that I don’t get to see a lot,” said 17-year-old Brock Liddle of Liddle Home Farm in Argyle, N.Y.

He was busy prepping one of his farm’s cows for the showmanship contest. Just like a glamorous fashion model, the 11-month-old heifer is kept lean, clean and well-groomed, which helps score points with the judges.

A high school senior, Liddle said he likes working with younger kids and showing them how to take care of animals. Of course, winning is a big encouragement, too.

“It gets little kids interested and gives them a push,” he said.

Of course the fair has another important role by teaching people from non-farm backgrounds about today’s agricultural challenges.

“I’m a city girl,” said Verna Carazza of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. “This is a real education for me.”

She took in the sights, sounds and tempting aromas on the fair’s first full day with her friend, Conny Moore of Clifton Park, N.Y.

“I was raised on a farm,” Moore said. “I love to come back and go through all the barns. We just saw a Percheron mule at the draft tent.”

Two-year-old Isabella Favata, of Bennington, Vt., got a hands-on experience by milking a life-size artificial cow in the dairy barn, where a working milking parlor is on display.

“I was raised on a farm,” said her mother, Sara. “We just think it’s important for her to be exposed to these kinds of things. It’s good for her to see.”

In the FFA building, a group of young children petted newborn ducklings.

All kinds of animals were displayed from emus to a pair of reindeer owned by Bob Smith of Ballston Spa, N.Y.

“Do they fly?” a little girl asked.

“Only at Christmas time when Santa needs them,” Smith said, smiling.

The 2012 fair had record attendance of more than 120,000 people and this year got off to a good start on Monday, Aug. 19. Turnout is heavily dependent on the weather and Mother Nature cooperated by providing excellent conditions throughout the week. It was a classic, late-summer setting with temperatures in the mid-80s under bright, blue sunny skies.

Crowds turned out for all kinds of special features, attractions and entertainment including ox and draft horse demonstrations, antique tractor pulls, pro rodeo events and a “Farmers Olympics” for adults and kids alike.

Of course, few people leave without sampling some of the delicious treats on hand, such as maple-flavored milkshakes at the Upper Hudson Maple Producers’ sugarhouse.

“How could you not want something here?” said Steve Childs, Cornell Cooperative Extension maple specialist.

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