By ROB JONAS
NEW SALEM – A summer tradition returns to New Salem when the hamlet’s volunteer fire department hosts its annual Punkintown Fair July 25-27.
Entering its 77th year, the Punkintown Fair has become a staple of New Salem’s summer scene. For three evenings, people from the surrounding communities flock to the field across Route 85A from the New Salem Fire House to partake in carnival rides and games, food, fun and a cash awarding raffle.
“Parents bring their kids to it, and now grandparents are bringing their grandkids to it,” said Punkintown Fair co-organizer Katy Carl.
As fairs go, the Punkintown Fair is tiny. There are a handful of rides, games and food booths dotting the landscape – nothing like its larger county fair counterparts. However, Carl said that’s part of Punkintown’s appeal.
“People are here for hours and usually come back for multiple days because it’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s not like a huge county fair where you have to compete with a lot of noise, and extra chaos. . Families come here to visit with their friends while their kids go on the rides.”
Carl said the public’s anticipation usually starts when she begins updating the fair’s Facebook page in the spring.
“When I start putting Facebook posts out there, the community gets excited and starts asking questions about when the dates are and what else is being planned,” she said. Most of the comments received on the posts all relate to how long people have been attending the fair and how many great memories that have been created there and how excited they are to bring their kids back this year.
Many of the rides and food offerings are the same from last year’s fair. Organizers are bringing back the fish fry, which made its debut last year and was a hit among fair goers.
“The food is always an attraction,” said Carl.
The only change is there won’t be a fireworks night this year. Carl said the fireworks show are being set aside for special anniversary years.
Admission and parking are both free for the Punkintown Fair. Proceeds from the rides, food and raffle benefit the New Salem Volunteer Fire Department. The fair opens each evening at 6 p.m. at the field, located at the intersection of routes 85 and 85A in New Salem.
For more information, visit the New Salem Volunteer Fire Department’s website (newsalemvfd.org).