By DIEGO CAGARA
NEW SALEM — New Salem Fire Department Prepares for 75th Punkintown Fair
The New Salem Volunteer Fire Department has been preparing for its 75th Punkintown Fair for months, according to Treasurer and Chairman Tim Blow, which will happen across the street on July 27 through 29 at 6 p.m.
The fair, established in 1942, will celebrate its 75th anniversary, even predating the fire department itself which came into existence in 1947. This annual family event will feature numerous rides for children to enjoy, entertainment, food and a raffle. While admission and parking are free, the event has been promoted via mailing and word-of-mouth. Fireworks will occur on the night of July 29.
Describing the fair as a local “multi-generational event,” Stuart Morrison, 1st Lt. and former Chairman of the Fair, noted that “you see the same faces and people are just happy to come out and support the department.”
“I remember I came [to the fair] as a child and I dropped my quarters on the games and walked out with some goldfish,” Morrison reminisced. “It’s just a chance for the community to come together on a very local basis and you see all your neighbors and kids, knowing it’s all going to support a local event.”
The fire department receives around “15 to 20 percent of its budget” from the Punkintown Fair while “the rest of it is on a contract that we have with the town of New Scotland which provides fire services.” Besides paying vendors, all proceeds go to the department.
Blow has had to ensure the fair’s resources and products are obtained on time and the department’s 30 to 40 volunteers are assigned to efficiently set everything up, admittedly deeming the process as “incredibly difficult” but worthwhile.
Blow estimated that around 2,000 hours of volunteer work would have been devoted to the fair—500 volunteer hours setting it up and 1,300 during the actual fair.
Morrison said that the overall turnout in recent years has been “tremendous” but was unable to provide an exact number as there is no proper head count and entrance to the fair itself is free. He hopes that this year would continue that ascending trend, aware that entrants mainly originate from New Salem, New Scotland and Voorheesville.
The two believe that having one night alone for the fair is inadequate, when looking at how much time is devoted to setting it up, while having it for three nights allows more people to come, depending on weather and their availability.