One of Orange’s most popular annual events, the Orange Country Fair, will be back this month, after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The fair will take place, rain or shine, the weekend of September18 and 19 on the Orange Fairgrounds. Hours for Saturday are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is unchanged from prior years, $8 adults, $5 senior citizens and active military (with ID); children 14 and under enter for free. For details check its website, orangectfair.com.
There is no truck pull on Friday night, according to fair committee co-chairwoman, Karen McCausland. “We don’t have the staffing to manage it,” she said. But the premises will be open Friday to those who enter competitions – ranging from baked goods to arts and crafts and home-grown vegetables and plants.
One change people will see is that the civic and the craft fairs will be in separate tents this year, McCausland said. One of the challenges the committee had faced was to find a tent rental company. Some had gone out of business, she said; others struggle with a lack of employees, while events and family celebrations are going on left and right. But the committee did sign with a new company for the event.
What’s to see
Throughout the weekend, people can visit the farm animals in the animal building – although each contestant this year can enter fewer animals than in the past. The goal is to reduce the number of animals overall, and to create more space in the middle of the building for people to spread out. People will be encouraged to wear a mask while in the building, and possibly walk through one-way, to avoid people crowding in the building. The snake tent also will be back, McCausland said.
In addition to the canceled Friday night truck pull event, two other popular events will not take place this year, namely the pig races and the dog agility demonstrations. But with the doodlebug and tractor pulls, as well as the horse- and oxen pulls, people young and old can get their fill of watching the display of powerful strength. As far as the pedal tractor pull is concerned, the committee is looking for a new pedal tractor – the old one is not functional any more.
More strength will be on display at the two-person hand saw contest and the men’s hay bale toss (16 years & older), but the women’s skillet toss was up in the air at the time we spoke.
“We had to be able to scale back if needed,” the committee wrote in the Fair booklet. “We also had several members who are no longer with us. We will be looking for some new superintendents to assist us with the fair going forward.”
For antiques afficionados there will be a designated tent; as well as on Sunday, an antique car show. For the youth there are several exciting contests, including a Junior baking contest; a state Junior Quilt Contest, myriad arts and crafts contests and a photography contest.
The birdhouses competition also is in need of a new superintendent, McCausland said. For now, the birdhouses will be incorporated in the exhibit hall.
Both the delivery and the pickup of entries is causing the committee some headaches, as they want to ensure people will stay socially distanced, and, if in the building, masked. Participants are asked to register their entries ahead of time and to leave entries at the door on Friday evening. Entry blanks can be found in the fair booklet which is available at the town hall; or online, https://orangectfair.com/downloads/2021/OCF2021.pdf.
The entry form must be mailed to Orange Country Fair, 874 Grassy Hill Road, Orange, 06477. All exhibits must be delivered on Friday, September17, between 5:30 and 8 p.m.
As for the pickup, the suggestion is to let small groups of people enter the exhibit hall at a time to retrieve their entry. Organizers were planning to have a meeting last week, focusing in particular on the pickup on Sunday evening. Details may still be announced.
During the fair, free parking and a shuttle to the entrance is provided. Pets are not permitted on the grounds; and no alcohol is allowed. ATMs are located at the main food area and at the satellite food tent.
Musical entertainment is on the schedule, although as of last week it wasn’t clear which groups would be performing. The food tent will be up and running; people will need to social distance while waiting to be served.
The committee is looking for volunteers, in particular in the food tent and during the Friday night setup. If available, email the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vendors for the civic and craft tent can rent spaces of approximately 10×10 feet and electricity is available. If interested in a vendor space, contact Robb McCorkle (email@example.com) for the civic tent and MaryEllen Bespuda (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the craft tent. Spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fairgoers may not find every event exactly as they remember it from past years, McCausland said but it’s better to have a fair than not. “Now all we have to do is hope for good weather.”
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent