The 180th Columbia County Fair begins Wednesday, September 1, but there is plenty happening the weekend before at the Fairgrounds in Chatham.

The Open Horse Show takes place on Sunday, August 29 and is a “shine only” event this year – the show will be cancelled if it rains.  Competition begins at 8:30am for Junior and Senior English and Western-style riders from Columbia, Dutchess, Rensselaer, and Berkshire counties.  Holding the Horse Show ahead of the official opening of the Fair showcases the event, and gives fans and participants full use of the Grandstand.  Superintendent Holly Cooley said that she is excited about this year’s Show and looks forward to seeing everyone again.  She also wanted to thank their generous sponsors, Dover Saddlery, Greene County Horseshoe Supply, Wenk Funeral Home, Chatham Brewing, Macfarlane Contracting, and Robert Meehan, Jr. Excavation.  Holly added that photographer Doug Stalker will be capturing all the action and the fine folks from Ghent’s Whitestone Cafe are opening up their Fairgrounds booth to feed everyone.

The Sunflower contest will also be held on August 29 between 1:00 and 2:00PM.  Sponsored by Trustco Bank, cash prizes and ribbons will be awarded for the tallest, largest head, and most flowers on one stalk.  Competitors in adult and youth classes will be reaching high – the World Record is 30 feet, one inch tall!

Local beverage-makers will compete in the Amateur Craft Beer, Wine, and Cider contest, sponsored by S.T. Hudson’s Son Plumbing and Heating on Saturday, August 28.  Cash prizes will be awarded in each individual section and class, and “Best of Show”  will be chosen from among the first-place finishers in each class.

Once the Fair officially opens, animals will take a starring role at this traditional agricultural Fair.  Livestock competitions were the very reason county Fairs were created, and the Show Ring is center stage.  Entrants will be exhibiting dairy cattle, beef cattle, and sheep.    There are also contests for poultry at the Poultry Building.  You won’t want to miss the “Loud Mouth Rooster Crowing Contest” – four contests during the week will culminate in the “Loud Mouth Championship” on Sunday afternoon!

A visit to the Fair is the best chance for kids to get up close and interact with animals, either in a walk through the barns or at the Petting Zoo.  Hands-on experience is also one of the many advantages of participation in the 4H program.  There is a traditionally strong presence of 4H kids from Columbia and Greene Counties led by the skilled adult volunteers of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  4Hers work all summer to prepare and will be showing their beef and dairy cattle, sheep, poultry, rabbits, goats and swine in the Show Ring.  Be sure to visit Columbia Hall to see their other projects, learn more about the program, and grab a milkshake at their kid-powered booth!

And there’s more!  Whether you prefer the excitement of pig racing or the thrilling action of an authentic professional Rodeo, it’s all there at the Columbia County Fair.

The Columbia County Fair is located off Route 66 in Chatham, NY.  Opening day is Wednesday, September 1, at noon.  The fair ‘always runs over Labor Day’, and concludes on Monday, September 6.

Admission includes parking and all entertainment.  Daily hours are Wednesday: noon to 11PM, Thursday – Monday: 10AM – 11PM.  Seniors Day is Wednesday with special pricing for $5.00 for ALL patrons.  Youth under 18 are admitted for free that day until 4PM.  Daily admission all other days is $10.00.  Children 12 and under are always free. Advance tickets are $8 each and are available at the Fair Administration Office until August 31.

Advance tickets will also be available at branch offices of Bank of Greene County and at Price Chopper from August 1 – August 31. Special ride passes will be sold at the ride ticket booth across from the cattle area at the Fair’s North Gate entrance from noon through closing.  The cost is $15 on Wednesday and Monday and $20 on all other days.

Action at the Fairgrounds begins the weekend before with the Open Horse Show and Sunflower Contest on Sunday, August 29, and the Craft Beer, Wine, and Cider Competition Saturday, August 28.