Three County Fair captivating fairgoers in 199th year    

  • From left, Melanie Gree, 6, Levi Ingram, 4, and Dallas Ingram, 6, all of Springfield, play with bubbles at the Three County Fair on Saturday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Mike Sklarski, left, and Richard Bosworth, right, pose for a photo at the Three County Fair on Saturday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Jason Niles looks at his daughter Anya Niles, 7, of Chester, while riding the Ferris Wheel at the Three County Fair Saturday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • Lauren Adams sits in her boyfriend Andrew Goodwin's lap at the Three County Fair on Saturday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • A view of amusement rides at the Three County Fair on Saturday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

  • A view of Rockwell Amusements midway at sunset at the Three County Fair on Saturday  in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/ANDREW J. WHITAKER

For the Recorder
Published: 9/4/2016 11:44:53 PM
Modified: 9/4/2016 11:44:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Six patrons at the 199th Three County Fair sat on stage, their eyes closed and their hands placed open on their thighs. They took deep breaths in and out as Michael Blaine guided them into hypnosis.

“Relax your forehead. Relax your ears. Relax your eyes,” said Blaine, a hypnotist from New York. “Relax your thighs. Relax your knees.”

Blaine said the body during hypnosis is more relaxed than when in a natural sleep and the mind is focused like a laser beam. Blaine said his words are suggestions that are accepted by the participants’ subconscious.

“In a nutshell, my words become their thoughts,” he told a reporter later.

As patrons relaxed, they began to act on Blaine’s words. When Blaine said the participants were at the North Pole and freezing, they started shivering and hugging each other to keep warm.

He then hypnotized the patrons to believe they were drinking fruit punch spiked with alcohol. A few slurred their words and acted like they were drunk.

They also danced the chicken dance, walked like a supermodel and barked like dogs.

Near the end, Blaine sent his subjects back to their seats, but had trigger words for each one. Every time Blaine said “trance” one male participant would shout, “I’m wearing woman’s underwear!”

Jill Strader, 51, from Easthampton was hypnotized on Saturday. At one point, she seemed to believe she was on the game show “The Price is Right” and that Blaine was former host Bob Barker.

“I still feel the excitement,” Strader said.

She had a vague memory of what had happened under Blaine’s spell, but it quickly vanished. Strader said it was like waking up from a dream.

“My mind is blank. I don’t remember a thing,” she said about the hour she was hypnotized. “I just remember going up (on stage) and sitting down on the chair.”

Blaine was scheduled for multiple hypnosis performances throughout the weekend at the fair’s Farm Museum stage.

Elsewhere at the fairgrounds Saturday, clowns meandered through the crowds, while vendors sold fried candy bars, hot dogs and fresh squeezed lemonade. Other events included performances by the Royal Bengal Tigers, Flippin’ Acrobatics and Grannie’s Racing Pigs.

A new addition to the fair this year was a beer garden event on Saturday offering tastings from four local breweries and a home brew competition.

Cody Potasky, 23, and Luke Lepine, 23, both of Easthampton, put together the tastings and competition with the aim of having a larger tent at the festival next year.

Fifteen home-brewed beers were scored on a point system with four categories: appearance, aroma, palate and flavor. The beers were rated by judges from Abandoned Building Brewing, Fort Hill Brewery, Northampton Brewery and Hitchcock Brewing Co.

Southampton residents Brian Sullivan, 53, and Steve Martin, 61, have been home brewing for about four years. They entered three beers in the competition together — a wheat, a porter and an IPA.

The porter won first place and the IPA won second. The first prize included $100 in cash and the opportunity to brew for a day at Hitchcock Brewing Company in Whately.

Monday brings a new event to the fair — a school bus demolition derby.

Eight large buses will compete and a small rabbit bus will be thrown into the mix to cause a ruckus, according to the fair’s general manager, Bruce Shallcross. The last bus running wins.

Local schools and community groups are sponsoring and decorated each large bus used in the event. Retired school buses were supplied by the fair and will be sold for scrap metal later, Shallcross said.

The school bus demolition derby begins at 1 p.m. today at the Three County Fair’s grandstand.


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