The local landscape has changed immensely throughout the great span of time the Altamont Fair has been around.
Next week marks the 122nd year for the local fair, a summer attraction large enough for three counties — Albany, Schenectady, Greene — to stake their claim on it.
A lot of work is still underway, leading up to Opening Day, Tuesday, Aug. 11. “There’s over 100 acres that we take care of,” said Pay Canaday, a volunteer board member of the Altamont Fair. “Grounds need to be mowed and trimmed. Flores that need to be watered.”
Each summer, people walk onto the fairgrounds and are reminded of days gone by: Parents are reminded of their childhoods, and children are introduced to fun activities not purchased through iTunes. Canaday said organizers have invested “heavily” on upgrades to ensure more comforts to visitors; additional lighting, more black top and updated bathrooms.
But, the main attraction continues to be the attention on the fair’s long tradition of providing family friendly entertainment and showcasing agriculture and history.
This year, the Altamont Fair introduces a new country store, located in the refurbished 1890s Village and Carriage Museum. There will be locally handcrafted and produced items for sale created by artists associated with the fair. Canaday said fair-goers can expect to see an eclectic collection of high-end items in what she called, “A little country store of our own making.”
A new carnival and midway will be showcased this summer. Dreamland Amusements brings “Delusion,” a 60-ton ride that spins two different ways with giant batons with seats that spin between one to seven revolutions per minute (RPM), attached to a small turntable that spins as much as 12 RPM.
There’s something new in entertainment as well, said Amy Anderson, the Altamont Fair manager.
“New this year, we are having ‘Hypnosis… It’s Just A Frame Of Mind,’ starring Michael DeSchalit,” she said. “It involves volunteer audience members so I’m sure it will be fun as the volunteers are hypnotized and made to entertain the crowd.”
The Kidbucks Game Show is another new attraction that promises audience interaction in a gameshow environment for the whole family. Randomly selected members from the crowd participate in “wild and crazy” games. The final winner enters the Kidbucks Chamber and grabs as many “Kidbucks” as possible, as they swirl about the chamber.
“We have Clay Haven Farms Belgians exhibiting in the Draft Horse Barn” said Anderson. “And we will have a full schedule of livestock shows – sheep, goats, rabbits, dairy and beef cattle.” Check out the Ag Awareness Trail, a scavenger hunt that will tour the fairgrounds looking for answers to questions about agriculture. Submit your findings to enter for a chance to win a grand prize. Bring the kids to try their hand at “milking a cow” and picking apples off the apple tree. Designed for the younger set who want to share a hands-on-farming experiences.
The Altamont Fair is hosting a wine tasting with select vintners ready to offer samples of their finest New York wines. Freestyle Motocross riders will be here all week in the Grandstand with their incredible feats on motorcycles. Circus Hollywood is back with seven acts of circus fun under the big top. Stop in to visit the “Giraffic Menagerie” featuring “Twiggs” the giraffe and other animals in the petting zoo.
Altamont Fair has a tradition of featuring the top local bands performing on the Reid Northrup Stage. We have some favorites returning: Nick Coluccio, Grand Central Station, Nite Train and the High Voltage Horns and Funk Evolution. New this year is the group Audio Vault featuring Tommy Nag who plays rock from the ‘70s all the way to today’s rocking sound. Moonshine Junkies is here for the first time offering high-energy modern country music.
And, if you want to try your hand at being the next Shania Twain, you’re best bet is to join Bobby Stillwell as he hosts Karaoke Hall every night.
The Auto Museum- Cars: Past, Present & Future are hosting Dave Davies Sr. and Dave Davies Jr. to display their amazing motorcycles with custom paint and pinstriping. Stop in and chat bikes with the masters of motorcycling building and customizations.
One-price admission includes unlimited rides, attractions, Circus Hollywood under the big top and parking. Admission is $15 online and at the gate on Tuesday and Wednesday, and $17 at the gate Thursday through Sunday. Children three feet tall and under are free. Wednesday is Senior and Armed Forces Day, where seniors 65 years and up and active/retired of the Armed Forces with ID are free until 4 p.m.
The Altamont Fair is a three county fair representing Albany, Schenectady and Greene Counties. It is a non-profit, public educational and historical society supported entirely by admissions, rentals, contributions, sponsorships and the assistance of hundreds of dedicated volunteers. For schedule and ticket information visit www.altamontfair.com.
“We’re friends and neighbors who love sharing agriculture and history through competition and exhibitions,” said Canaday. “Our roots are so heavily invested in history and agriculture.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.