By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — WESTPORT — Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell lost his milking crown at last year’s Essex County Fair, but he intends to reclaim it.
The 165th Essex County Fair begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday, with an official opening ceremony at 5:45 p.m. at the fairgrounds off Route 9N in Westport.
The Milking Contest is at 6 p.m. in the fair arena, where Connell and other members of the County Board of Supervisors will go up against the 2012 champion milker, Schroon Town Supervisor Michael Marnell.
Connell, who grew up on a dairy farm, had held the top milker title until Marnell bested him at the last fair.
“I am taking back the title,” Connell said Monday. “You can count on that. I’m disappointed I lost the contest last year, but I’m going to win it back.”
THE MOST MILK
The Board of Supervisors holds a milking contest every year as part of the fair’s opening ceremonies. Cows are brought into the arena, and town leaders sit at stools next to them, tugging at teats and hoping to be the one to draw the most milk and win.
Marnell said he plans to hold on to the title.
“I’m going to be the winner again, no doubt of it. I beat a professional last year.”
He said it had been 58 years since he last milked a cow.
“Dan is my biggest competition,” he said. “He’s been practicing. He’s had cow manure all over his shoes all week.”
The fair itself has several new acts and shows this year, Fair Coordinator James Westover said.
“Chris Higbee will be here from Pennsylvania. He’s an excellent country fiddle player. He’s bringing his band.”
Higbee will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday at the grandstand.
Westover said a Car Rollover and Figure 8 Contest will be held at 6 p.m. Friday on the track, with a $3 admission.
“The Figure 8 Contest is new this year. (Vehicles) go in a figure 8, and they have to make it through the intersection without crashing into the other guy.”
Fair Secretary Bertha Rand said also new this year is a horse-logging demonstration and a Miniature Horse and Donkey Show.
An Essex County Beauty Pageant is also new, set for 6 p.m. Thursday on the South Lawn Stage. Entry information for the pageant is available at: www.essexcountyfair.org.
Rand said master hypnotist Michael Blaine is back for his second fair.
“He appeared here for the first time last year, and now he’s a national performer. He agreed to come back because we gave him his start. He’s very good, and it will be an excellent show.”
Blaine appears at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the South Lawn Stage.
The fair runs Wednesday through Sunday, and admission is $10 a person, which includes all carnival rides, most shows and parking.
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Here's Wednesday's schedule:
Gordon Oil Day and Senior Citizen Day (seniors older than 60). Receive $2 off food coupon, with $10 admission.
The midway will open after inspection.
9 a.m.: Essex County Fair Draft Horse and All-Breed Driving Show at the Horse Ring or Pulling Ring.
Noon: 4-H Dairy Cattle Show at the 4-H Cooperative Extension Area; 4-H Beef Cattle Show follows; harness racing at the Gordon Oil Grandstand, with Upstate New Yorkers playing between races.
3 p.m.: Master Hypnotist Michael Blaine Show.
3:30 p.m.: Sheep and Goat Show at 4-H Cooperative Extension Area.
5 p.m.: 4-H Horse Show, trail and dressage.
5:30 p.m.: Bike Giveaway in Cattle Show Ring.
5:45 p.m.: Opening Ceremony in Cattle Show Ring.
6 p.m.: Cow-Milking Contest with Essex County Board of Supervisors; Dog Agility Demo in Conservation Area; and Street Legal Truck Pull at Gordon Oil Grandstand.
7 p.m.: 4-H Dog Show at Conservation Area; and Master Hypnotist Michael Blaine Show.