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Fair thee well

Franklin County gears up for 166th annual event

The Ferris wheel looms large in the Midway at the Franklin County Fair.
Recorder/Paul Franz

The Ferris wheel looms large in the Midway at the Franklin County Fair. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — Franklin County Fair president Fred Steiner barely made it past the stables at the Franklin County Fairgrounds before Adam Martin, of Martin’s Farm in Greenfield, emerged from an old red barn and flagged him down.

As Steiner pulled his golf-cart over, the two dove into a discussion about the logistics of antique tractor placement. Around them, similar scenes unfolded as fair officials puttered around the grounds, stopping to check the placement of tents or banners or direct trailers to their parking area.

For Steiner, those meetings continued for the days leading up to today’s fair opening, as electricians, police officers, painters, vendors and others helping to set up this year’s Franklin County Fair, filtered in and out of the Wisdom Way grounds.

In the brief moments between his stops, Steiner provided a run-down of what fairgoers can expect over the next four days.

In keeping with the fair’s theme, “A Timeless Tradition,” Steiner said some events that have been featured at past fairs but were done away with over the years, such as harness racing demonstrations from the Franklin County Harness Racing Association at 2 p.m. on Friday and demonstrations from the local Boy Scouts, will be held throughout the fair, which opens at 3 p.m. today.

“These are kind of new things, but they’re still old,” said Steiner. “We’re hoping to bring back some old memories.”

He said the fair’s organizers have decided to try to bring more attention to local farming this year, and will have an agricultural education tent set up in front of the Fish and Wildlife and Kiwanis buildings. Under the tent, fairgoers will be able to see how compost is made at exhibits set up by the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District and Martin’s Farm.

The tent will also feature a demonstration on how to make mozzerella cheese from goat’s milk, Steiner said.

According to Steiner, the fair’s midway area, which will be run by Reithoffer Shows, will see a number of upgrades this year. It will be a bit bigger than years past, with some of the cables used to power the rides having been buried underground.

Additionally, new thrill rides, including the Air Racer and Speed, have been added to the mix. The Air Racer, Steiner said, will take its riders on a wild ride, flipping them upside-down at points. The Speed ride, which also flips the riders around, will stand over 100 feet tall at its farthest extension.

Steiner said the fair will also have a new funhouse attraction, and that many of the familiar rides have been upgraded with LED lighting.

The midway will open at 4 p.m. today and Friday, and at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Today, the fair will kick off with shows and demonstrations at the infield area by the North Quabbin Carvers and Robinson’s Racing Pigs, which Steiner said are back by popular demand. The community stage will feature martial arts demonstrations by Green River Aikido and musical performances by the Wildcat O’Halloran Band and FirePond.

Friday will feature shows by the local Wright Brothers Comedy Troupe and local musical acts on the community stage, as well as additional infield demonstrations. The day’s big events include a classic car show at 4 p.m. in the Grandstand and the Franklin County Fair’s Got Talent competition at 6 p.m.

Saturday’s main attraction will be a truck pull in the Grandstand at 4 p.m. hosted by Shootout Productions of Selkirk, N.Y.

“These trucks get so loud that you can hear them a mile away,” said Steiner.

Infield demonstrations and shows throughout the day will include the Flying High Frisbee Dogs, the New England Center for Circus Arts, Greenfield Tae Kwon Do, Robinson’s Racing Pigs, the North Quabbin Carvers, Sylvia Fletcher’s Magic Trunk and a K-9 police dog unit demonstration.

Sunday will feature a variety of events showcasing local emergency service organizations, including an EMS parade, more K-9 demonstrations and the firefighter’s muster. The fair’s apple pie eating contest, which pits pie lovers against one another to see who can down their dessert the fastest, will take place a 12:30 on the community stage, and at 5:30 p.m. engines will rev and metal will fly at Stoney Robert’s Demolition Derby.

Standard admission is $10 for those 18 to 59, $7 for those over 59, $8 for those 8 and younger. Parking in fair lots is $5.

Friday, Senior citizens park free until 1 p.m. with paid admission.

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