WARRENSBURG - A revitalized Warren County Fair could recapture its former success by offering a midway, amusement rides and a variety of Adirondack-themed contests and demonstrations, potential fair organizers said Monday at a meeting to revive a traditional annual event that has been dormant for nearly a decade.
A total of 17 people interested in bringing the Warren County Fair back to life discussed ideas that included moving the fair to a new site and coupling it with other entities or existing area events to boost its fortunes.
Two representatives of The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom amusement park - Mike Wood and Rebecca Close - suggested hosting the fair at their facility as a way to combine top-quality amusement rides with traditional fair activities.
The planning group members, on the verge of forming a fair association, were receptive to the idea, despite the difficulty of planning event around The Great Escape's busy season of July and August.
The Warren County Fair in recent decades had been sponsored and managed by Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension, which is seeking to turn over its role to an independent fair association, due to the greater flexibility and lower event liability insurance costs of an independent organizing entity.
Such concerns, plus hefty financial losses, led to the conversion in 2002 of the Warren County Fair from a popular multi-day event with entertainment and rides and well-known regional entertainers, to a one-day youth fair that was focusing on 4-H activities.
That downsized event is to be held again in 2011 on Aug. 6, and is to include a sustainable living expo. Beyond this next year, however, Cooperative Extension officials, who have led several planning sessions, envision a fair association taking over the helm of the county fair.
The planning group meeting Monday exhibited enthusiasm for such a plan.
The planning group decided to meet again on Jan. 10 and nominate officers of a fair association, to be formally elected at the following meeting.
Attendee Don Bagwell of Warrensburg Bike Week suggested holding the county fair during his event which is held annually to coincide with the Americade motorcycle rally.
Fair organizers like the idea of linking a fair with other popular functions, but balked at the idea of holding the fair during Bike Week, held in early June, because children were still in school.
John Warren of the Adirondack Almanack and former fair board member Duane Griffin suggested bringing back special events traditionally held with the county fair - or launching new ones - including logging skills contests, rodeo events, a gymkhana, a lawn-tractor or ATV weight-pull competition and a car show.
It was also suggested that the fair include a lineup of sports-related competitions between the various children's camps that operate in the region during the summer.
Also discussed was reviving farm-animal exhibitions and contests - a tradition at the Warren County Fair - despite most agricultural activity ceasing in the county since the 1940s.
Pam Morin, for years the county fair administrator who organized the myriad details of the event, offered suggestions on getting dozens of organizations involved and boosting support for the event.
Cooperative Extension director James Seeley said he was impressed with the ideas and enthusiasm that surfaced at Monday's meeting as he noted that 17 people attended and shared in the planning, rather than two turning out at an earlier meetup.
"There's strong leadership in this group," he said. "I think a fair association is going to go forward - finally."