Heath Fair to offer blend of traditional, new activities in 104th year

  • Fairgoers peruse books for sale by the Friends of the Heath Free Public Library during the 102nd Heath Fair. The event returns today through Sunday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers square dance in the cattle barn to the music of the Falltown String Band during the 102nd Heath Fair. The event returns today through Sunday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers watch the fireworks during the 102nd Heath Fair. The event returns today through Sunday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2022 4:57:40 PM

HEATH — In its return to three days of activities, the 104th Heath Fair will offer a little something for everyone, with events ranging from traditional square dancing to the fair’s first gymkhana in roughly 15 years.

The Heath Fair, which was first held at the Dickinson Family Farm before moving to the Heath Fairgrounds, is special this year because there haven’t been three days of activities since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Health safety restrictions put the fair on hold altogether in 2020, and last summer’s event was cut short due to a hurricane.

Friday night will kick off the fair with a variety of events. There will be an antique tractor parade followed by bingo. The night will close out with fireworks and square dancing.

Saturday will follow with a sheep, cattle and rabbit show. There is no poultry show this year due to the spread of avian flu, a disease that affects poultry and has been found in 38 states this year.

Along with a goat show on Sunday, the last day of the fair is great for equine enthusiasts. This is the first year the fair will introduce a gymkhana — a series of competitive games on horseback — in roughly 15 years. The competitions were also held in the 1960s and ’70s.

Pulling events are a fair tradition, and they will not be missed this year. Years ago, farmers displayed their pride for their strong horses and oxen by showing how heavy a load they could pull. As technology has changed, so have the variety of pulling events. This year there will be antique tractor, children’s lawnmower, pony, oxen and truck pulls.

“When it comes to pulls, we have it all at the Heath Fair,” said Jessica O’Neill, president of the Heath Agricultural Society that organizes the fair.

Along with the lawnmower pull, there are lots of activities geared toward children. There will be a watermelon eating contest, a magic show and a bicycle raffle.

Live music can also be enjoyed throughout the weekend. Bands Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, Trouble Sisters, Deep River Ramblers, Opal Canyon, Slide Grinders, Meadows Brothers and many more are slated to perform.

“While people are enjoying music, they can go to the beer tent,” O’Neill said. Greenfield’s The People’s Pint is the featured brewery this year. Its home-brewed beer will be available for purchase for people over the age of 21.

O’Neill stressed that anyone can enter into the fair’s contests — there is no requirement to be a Heath resident. While most volunteers and competitors are from the surrounding area, attendees are welcome from all over.

“It is a nice throwback,” O’Neill said of the Heath Fair’s honoring agricultural traditions. “We work hard to keep it that way.”

Attendees can come for one day for $12 or purchase a three-day pass for $30. Children under 10 years old are admitted for free and seniors get a discount. Attendees are asked to bring cash or checks as most vendors will not accept credit cards.

For updated scheduling information or to buy tickets in advance, visit heathfair.org.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

An earlier version of this article included an erroneous mention regarding the frequency of gymkhanas. While gymkhanas have not happened at the fair in the past decade, they were held in the 1960s and ’70s, and as recently as about 15 years ago.

ScheduleFriday, Aug. 19

■5 to 8 p.m. — Exhibit Hall open.

■5 p.m. to closing (11 p.m.) — Lower Food Booth open

■Schedule to be determined — Upper Food Booth open

■5 to 10 p.m. — Beer Garden open

■5:30 p.m. — Music: Uncles of the Pioneers

■5:30 p.m. — Church Ladies Ham and Bean Supper

■5:30 p.m. — Antique Tractor Parade

■6 p.m. — Antique Tractor Pull

■6:30 p.m. — Bingo

■7 p.m. — Music: Zydeco Connection with Bourbon Street Blasters

■7:30 to 11 p.m. — Square Dance: Falltown String Band with Doug Wilkins as caller

■8:15 p.m. — Drawing for Bicycle

■Nightfall — Fireworks

Saturday, Aug. 20

■7 a.m. to closing (11 p.m.) — Lower Food Booth open.

■Schedule to be determined — Upper Food Booth open

■9 a.m. — Rabbit Show

■9 a.m. — Children’s Lawnmower Pull registration

■9 to 10 a.m. — Demonstration: Winterberry Farm Herd Dogs

■10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — Exhibit Hall open.

■10 a.m. — Children’s Lawnmower Pull

■11 a.m. — Children’s Games

■11 a.m. — Horse Pull

■11 a.m. — Music: Trouble Sisters

■11 a.m. — Speaker: 4H Presentations by Hawlemont Regional School youth

■11 a.m. — Adult and Youth Sheep Show

■11 a.m. — Adult Cattle Show

■Noon to 9 p.m. — Beer Garden open

■Noon — Heath Firefighters Association Chicken Barbecue

■Noon — Demonstration: Sheep Shearing with Kevin Ford

■1 to 4 p.m. — Wagon Rides

■1 p.m. — Music: Deep River Ramblers

■1 p.m. — Demonstration: Hawlemont 4H (Care and Saddling of Horses/Pulling with Ponies and Oxen)

■1 p.m. — Children’s Games

■1 p.m. — Cow Plop Bingo

■2 p.m. — Speaker: Winterberry Farm Herd Dogs

■3 p.m. — Speaker: Introduction to Vegetable Fermentation with Real Pickles

■3 p.m. — Music: Kids’ Concert with Doug Wilkins

■4 p.m. — Music: Zara Bode’s Li’l Big Band

■4:30 p.m. — Speaker: Local Small Grain Farming with Bruce Stetson

■5 to 10 p.m. — Truck Pull

■7 p.m. — Music: Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

Sunday, Aug. 21

■7 a.m. to closing (5 p.m.) — Lower Food Booth open

■Schedule to be determined — Upper Food Booth open

■8 a.m. — Equine Gymkhana Obstacle Challenge Race in the gymkhana ring

■9 a.m. — Church Service

■9 a.m. — Ox Draw

■10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Exhibit Hall open

■10 a.m. — American Dairy Goat Association-Sanctioned Senior and Junior Doe Goat Shows

■10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Walk-Around Magic and Balloon Animals with Ed the Wizard

■10:30 a.m. — Classic Car Show

■10:30 a.m. — Music: Slide Grinders

■11 a.m. — Youth Cattle Show

■11 a.m. — Gymkhana

■Noon — Music: Opal Canyon

■Noon — Line up for the Parade

■Noon to 4 p.m. — Beer Garden

■1 p.m. — Parade (Flock Together Theme)

■1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Wagon Rides

■1:30 p.m. — Speaker: Honoring Keith Sherman

■2 p.m. — Music: Meadows Brothers

■2 p.m. — Speaker: Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership

■2 p.m. — Children’s Watermelon Eating Contest

■4 p.m. — Performance: Magic Show with Ed the Wizard

■4 p.m. to closing (5 p.m.) — Exhibit Hall entries may be picked up


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