The New Salem Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring its 63rd annual Punkintown Fair this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26 to 28.
The fair will feature the traditional games, rides, shows, and great food that the community has always enjoyed. New this year, fireworks will take place on Saturday night shortly after dark.
Although the Punkintown Fair has been a family favorite in the town of New Scotland for many years, the history of the event is not widely known.
Legend has it that in 1832, New Salem residents decided to name a tiny hamlet where the festival is now held Punkintown, after they discovered a pig that had given birth to a litter of piglets in a giant pumpkin, which grew in great numbers and tremendous size.
In 1942, residents decided to raise funds to buy gifts for men and women serving in World War II by holding a local fair, which continued until the war ended. In 1947, the newly formed New Salem Volunteer Fire Department started sponsoring the fair.
Over the years, the fair became well known for the prizes awarded to winners of the raffle drawings. In the 1940s, the big prizes were food, such as bushel baskets of peaches. In 1982, to mark the 40th anniversary of the fair, the top raffle prize was a live pig.
In the past, other prizes have included a beagle puppy, a trip to Hawaii and cars.
The fair has always been the principal source of revenue for the New Salem Fire Department, and still provides resources to buy new equipment.
Even nowadays, the firefighters run the show at the fair, from cooking some of the food, like hamburgers and sausage and peppers, to running the games and rides, which are the same professional midway rides that you would find at the Altamont Fair, without the huge crowd. Still, the Punkintown fair attracts more than 1,000 people throughout its three nights.