Three County Fair back for another ride: 35K expected to attend annual event that kicks off Friday

By MADDIE FABIAN

Staff Writer

Published: 08-31-2023 5:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON — With a sunny forecast and a schedule packed with agricultural events, music, motor sport activities, food and local art, the 206th Three County Fair is set to kick off Friday and run through Labor Day on Monday.

First been held in 1818, the Three County Fair is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the oldest ongoing fair in continual operation in the United States.

This year’s fair is expected to draw around 35,000 visitors over its four-day course, according to General Manager James Przypek.

“Agricultural fairs, not only our fair, they provide a connection to agriculture that a lot of people just don’t have anymore,” said Tom Smiarowski, president of the organization, who himself grew up on a dairy and vegetable farm in Montague.

The fair will include many of the same agricultural displays and attractions as past editions, but this year, renovations to the grandstand — including a handicap-accessible viewing area and ramp — will make it easier for visitors with disabilities to access grandstand events.

Those motor sport events include minivan and school bus demolition derbies, lawnmower racing, a classic car show and truck and tractor pulls.

At the forefront of the annual event are farms, with agricultural and livestock competitions including dairy, goat, poultry, rabbits and sheep shows filling each day’s agenda. The schedule is also stacked with other agricultural attractions including a Baby Barnyard, Farm Museum, and the Antique Engines Showcase.

“Our Baby Barnyard is always a big hit… where kids can see goats up close, they can go into our barns and see cows and chickens and rabbits,” said Smiarowski. “In a lot of cases, it might be their only direct connection to agriculture.”

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The fair is also set to include a variety of national traveling attractions from amusement rides, to a magic show, to North America’s top-rated Shania Twain tribute artist.

Other performances spotlight 15 different local artists, including “American Idol” singer Katherine Winston and “The Voice” singer Cara Brindisi.

New this year is a social media photography contest to honor Larry Honeyman, the fair’s longtime photographer, according to Smiarowski.

“We wanted to do something to recognize Larry’s contributions to the fair and the important role he played,” said Smiarowski. “Since he was a photographer, we felt that photography contests would probably be a good way of doing that.”

Ceremonies will also be held to present Three County Fair’s $10,000 donation to local disaster-relief foundations helping farms recover from this year’s heavy rains and flooding.

And throughout the weekend, more than a dozen food trucks will serve classic fair food like burgers, gyros, sliders, ice cream and fried dough, among many other foods.

“Fairs provide families with good entertainment options, and we saw that especially last year coming out of COVID,” Smiarowski said, adding that this year’s turnout is expected to be about the same as last year. “Families are looking for entertainment that they can do together as a family, and our fair and all the agricultural fairs can provide that.”

General admission is free for children age 11 and under, $12 for adults who purchase online in advance, and $15 for adults at the gate. Discounts are available for seniors, veterans and active military. Parking is free.

Through Wednesday, four-day passes can be purchased online for $30 at the fair’s website: 3countyfair.com. The website also includes a full schedule of events.

Maddie Fabian can be reached at mfabian@gazettenet.com or on Twitter @MaddieFabian.]]>