BALLSTON SPA: A fair farewell

One of Sunday's most popular events in the afternoon heat was the ice-cream-eating contest in the dairy pavilion, when 20 contenders lined up to scarf down a pint of their choice of vanilla or chocolate Stewart's ice cream.

"We do let the pints melt a little so they can be slurped like a milkshake," said marketing specialist Amy Sweeney. "There aren't any chunks in these flavors so there isn't much chewing involved."

Josh Pailey, 12, of Galway, was the contest winner after wolfing down a pint of chocolate in 1 minute and 22 seconds. His prize? A year's worth of Stewart's ice cream.

Josh attributed his sweet success to a healthy appetite.

"I made sure I was hungry when I started," said Pailey. "That, and I've had lots of practice."

Around 11 p.m., the baby ducks were sold for $3 each at the 4-H center, students took their award-winning photographs and artwork off display boards, bunnies and guinea pigs were carried out in cages. One man left the fair gates with a rooster tucked under his arm.

At the midway, a good-sized crowd, including a mix of teens and families with children dozing in strollers, cruised the brightly lit circle one last time. Many were clutching stuffed bulldogs, silk roses or large cloth basketballs won at booths that took as much luck as skill. Carnival workers cajoled people to take one last shot at popping a balloon with a dart or tossing a ping-pong ball into a fishbowl.

Signs that once said "the line starts here" were replaced with "help wanted" signs for local people to join the crews tearing down the massive rides and getting them onto trucks for their next destination.

Fair clean-up crews began the early part of the job of dismantling and scrubbing down the grounds. Sunday night, a crew of three guys went around to shut down green and white tents and empty 150 trash cans and two 40-yard trash containers.

"It is amazing how much garbage people just throw around," said crew member Tom Peet. "But we'll have 12 people out here working and in two weeks, we'll have it all cleaned up in time for the next event, the dog show.""

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