WESTPORT - The 162nd Essex County Fair is less than two months away, and organizers of the event are hoping to attract an even wider range of exhibitors.
The five-day event, nicknamed the "Adirondack Agricultural Fair," is scheduled for Aug. 11-15, and Fair Board secretary Bertha Rand said some exciting changes are already in place for this year to try to bring more people in from throughout the region.
"I think getting the word out that this isn't the Westport fair, that this is the County Fair, is the most important thing," said Rand. "We want people to realize it's their fair."
Traditionally, the fair has offered prizes for many types of items such as arts, crafts, plants, produce, baked goods, and, of course, animals. Filling all the available space with exhibits has been a challenge in recent years, however.
"Many people have commented on the reduced number of exhibits in Floral Hall," said Rand. "If people don't bring in exhibits, there are no items to see."
In an effort to get more items for display, three new exhibitor categories have been added this year: Farming, Go Green, and Technology.
"We want to exhibit agriculture, and agriculture can be just about anything," said Rand. "We also want to promote going green and recycling; things that are important to our kids' future."
"Technology students are producing videos, and we'd like to be able to play them in Floral Hall throughout the week," she added.
To attract more beef and dairy exhibitors this year, the fair is offering farmers $20 for each head of cattle they bring to help defray the cost of required veterinary treatments.
Exhibits are sought for other categories that have seen reduced participation lately, such as wool, handsewn items, pottery, metalcraft, woodworking, and historical items. There is also a lot of space available in the conservation area for exhibits dealing with forestry, conservation, fishing, hunting, and wildlife.
The Essex County Idol contest returns this year and is open to any resident of Essex County. Audition dates will be scheduled soon.
As usual, ribbons and cash awards will be offered for exhibits at the fair. Awards vary depending on the type of exhibit.
Anyone, amateur, youth or professional, can exhibit their items at the fair and even offer them for sale. Fair organizers see the items are properly displayed and supervised and collect a 10-percent premium on any sales.
"Anybody who buys a membership can exhibit at the fair," said Rand, noting how exhibitors can benefit by exposing their work to the 10,000-plus people who visit the fair each year.
Memberships, for a $20 fee, not only offer the ability to exhibit, but grant one person admission to the fair for all five days of the event. A $3 associate membership without admission is also available for exhibitors in certain categories.
Exhibits for the Essex County Fair can be brought in for entry Monday, Aug. 9, 3-7 p.m. or Tuesday, Aug. 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available in the exhibitor handbook, which will soon be mailed to fair members and available for download on the fair Web site, www.essexcountyfair.org. Applications for vendors and other displays are also available.
For more information, call the fair office at 962-8650 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.