I’ve heard it said, “You can’t call yourself a local until you’ve been to the Franklin County Fair.” It’s the area’s longest running tradition and one of the oldest in New York State.
The 163rd fair is about to get into full swing. This year’s events include concerts, truck and tractor pulls, a demolition derby, harness racing, a stunt drivers thrill show, a bronco and bull riding rodeo and the Franklin County Has Talent competition.
There will be a midway full of rides, games and attractions, and a wide variety of commercial exhibits and concessions. But it’s much more than carnival rides, music, fried dough, French fries and winning brightly colored stuffed animals.
It was originally the Franklin County Agricultural Society because of its agricultural focus. The name is still presented over the front gate on Route 11 on the east side of Malone, and the price of admission still includes access to all agricultural events. These displays, presentations and competitions bring to light the rich and diverse agricultural heritage of Franklin County and provide an opportunity to view working farm animals, livestock competitions, and many of the time-honored traditions.
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), Franklin County 4-H youth, the livestock animals and the traditional lineup of 4-H activities have been part of the fair for as long as most 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) families can remember. The Franklin County Fair Board has upheld a tradition of support.
The fair is not part of the 4-H program and CCE and the Fair Board are not directly related. Still, both have been cooperating for generations to assure success at one of the largest fairs in the region. It continues to be a place where 4-H members and others can come together to exhibit their skills, craftsmanship, showmanship and animals, and it remains a showcase for 4-H and FFA members exhibiting their prize livestock, as well as their garden, home-economics and crafts projects. On display are homegrown and handmade items of all kinds; fruits and vegetables, artwork, photography and a variety of creative projects, each one sporting a ribbon.