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Jefferson County Fair starts this week with old favorites, new animal shows

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WATERTOWN — This week, all in the same day even, a trip to the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds will enable you to interact with an exotic bird, ride a Sky Flyer, see a miniature stallion take a bow, watch a “brawl” while listening to “head-banging rock” and pick apart a jumbo sticky bun.

The Jefferson County Fair — the oldest continually running fair in the nation — has descended on the city for its 197th running Tuesday through Sunday off Coffeen Street.

“Every year it’s a combination of new and the same,” said Robert D. Simpson, fair president. “We’re going to have a good fair,” he said as setup kicked into high gear over the weekend, noting he hopes as many as 55,000 people attend.

One new attraction this year is the “Horses, Horses, Horses” show by Sarasota, Fla.-based performer Lisa A. Dufresne, which features 12 miniature stallions, a Friesian from Holland and a black Arabian performing a variety of stunts. Ms. Dufresne’s horses have traversed the U.S. and have performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, her website says. The show, free with admission, runs at 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve been trying to get it for several years,” Mr. Simpson said of the act. “We were finally able to book it this year.”

Ms. Dufresne said the 30- to 35-minute “variety show of horses” features five or six different acts. “It’s quite entertaining for everyone — adults and children alike,” she said Sunday.

Also new this year is “Westy’s Birds of Prey,” an interactive show of exotic birds with master falconer Rick West, of Adams.

A new non-animal-related attraction is “Brawlapalooza,” “a rock and rumble event” set for 6 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 to the show, which features seven mixed martial arts bouts and three bands — My Poor Brain, a tribute to the Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Co-Pilots, a tribute to STP, and Wrapped in Noir.

Mr. Simpson said the popular demolition derbies will return at 7 p.m. Thursday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. A 2CW wrestling event returns at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15.

As always, livestock and 4-H events will feature prominently. New this year is an open-carrier rabbit show on Sunday, which could draw as many as 300 well-groomed rabbits, many from out of the area, said Beth Shelmidine, first vice president of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society.

“We have a lot of competitions for everything from cattle to sheep and goats and chickens and rabbits,” she said.

This year’s rides also are a combination of traditional and novel. The Orbiter, a popular ride that Mr. Simpson said has been gone from the fair for some time, will return. The Wild Claw, the Sky Flyer and the Super Himalaya also will be featured, and a ride called Zero Gravity is new this year.

Other attractions include a roving balloon artist, daily contests and an array of traditional fair cuisine, including a new vendor, Mr. Sticky’s Sticky Buns.

On Sunday, as multicolored neon tents billowed under pristine blue skies, Lauren M. Clark, who will turn 14 on the first day of the fair, and her father were giving a fresh coat of white paint to their wooden animal pens, which will house two llamas and two meat goats. She said it will be her fifth year attending the fair with her animals, but only her second with goats, and this year she’s bringing a 4-month-old baby goat. “I will be breeding it,” she said. She added that she enjoys the livestock shows for children at night, and works at the dairy bar during the fair.

Under another yellow-and-white tent, Jason and Holly Schell, of Schell Farms, Philadelphia, were painstakingly hammering the letters of the sign for their booth, which will be staffed by their two daughters, Cassidy, 14, and Macie, 20.

“They do pretty much all of the work taking care of the animals the whole week,” Mrs. Schell said. In its fourth year attending, the farm is bringing 10 cows of various ages.

She said her daughters enjoy the numerous 4-H and FFA activities, such as a “milk-off” competition. “They have a blast,” she said.

Not to be outdone, food vendors on Sunday assembled in prime spots to attract hungry patrons. Smokey’s BBQ, Chaumont, was readying its trailer and smoker. “It’s a good fair,” owner George A. Day said. “It gets better and better every year.”

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.jeffcofair.org.

TICKET DETAILS

The Jefferson County Fair runs Tuesday through Sunday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds in Watertown.

“Mega pass” advance-sale tickets, which offer reduced price admission passes and reduced price wristbands for unlimited rides, are available through the start of the fair at Price Chopper, all Kinney Drugs stores in Jefferson County, the Salmon Run Mall and the fair office at the Fairgrounds for $20, and can be purchased during the fair for $25.

Individual season passes are $15.

Daily gate admission is free Tuesday, $5 Wednesday through Saturday and $4 Sunday. Advance-sale tickets, which can be purchased through 5 p.m. today, are $4. On Sunday, gate admission is $2 with the donation of two cans of food. Children 5 and younger are free.

Youth and senior citizens get in free Thursday and military with ID get in free Saturday.

Parking is free at Jefferson Community College and $3 at the Fairgrounds.

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