BALLSTON SPA: A fair farewell

You know the party's over when the cows go home.

Late Sunday afternoon at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds, the Guernsey, Angus and Hereford cows were led out of the dairy barn and into trucks to cart them back to more familiar lodging. Even though their six-day accommodations came with lots of fresh hay, the constant companionship of their owners, and blasts of cool air from the largest fans on the grounds, there weren't many moos of protest as they made their departure. It was the humans who were doing the whining.

It went by too fast, said Nick Hanehan, 14, hanging out in the barn with his brother, Liam, 10, and cousin Justin, 13. "This really is the best part of summer, and we're sorry it's over."

The Hanehan trio was nonetheless basking in pride as owners of a Jersey cow named Queso, who was bedecked with blue ribbons for winning champion status in the fair competitions.

"The cows know they weren't home, but as long as they get their food, they're happy," said Nick Hanehan.

After a county fair week plagued by thunderstorms, Sunday's last call before the close of the season brought perfect temps and moderate breezes. Although attendance figures won't be available for at least another week, fair manager Dick Rowland said the fair kicked off with a bang on opening day Tuesday, July 17.

"We set records on opening day," said Rowland. "Obviously, the weather caused some of the daily attendance to fluctuate, but we had a very strong finish."

Sunday was one last blast of summer fair fun, with flower arranging seminars, a dog obedience contest, the Best of Fair talent finals, and the last chance to lose your wits on the Ring of Fire and the Gravitron.

An Amusements of America employee running the giant Ferris Wheel said it would take five to six people 10 hours to dismantle the largest and most glittering ride on the midway.

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