Why would we turn the oven on in the middle of a hot summer? Because we are getting geared up for the Long Island Fair. The Competitive Exhibit Handbook, which used to be called the premium book, is now available and there is a certain 9-year-old in my house determined to win a blue ribbon for his cookies like he did three years ago. That means a lot of sweet experiments all summer in preparation for his entry in the fall.
Whether you grow food or flowers or bake the best and prettiest cupcakes—or do any number of folksy crafts—you should get a book and decide what to enter for competition in the 173nd edition of the Long Island Fair to be held September 24, 25 and 30 and October 1 and 2 at the fairground of the Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
It costs nothing to enter and (whoo-hoo!) the fair has gone back to offering not one but two free passes per exhibitor (you get them when you actually drop off your submission) as a way to encourage more attendance. And as part of the entertainment, Animal Planet’s Gator Boy Jimmy Riffle will present an alligator and reptile show, which I think is pretty cool.
If you haven’t been to a county fair before, or didn’t realize we had one, you should know that the Long Island Fair is one of the country’s oldest. Begun in 1842 by the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties as the Queens County Fair, it is an opportunity for local growers, bakers, artists, quilters and crafters to submit their best work for judging. Once the fair opens, the public cruises the exhibits while eating roasted corn, peanuts, donuts and candy apples. There are old-style baseball games (new this year will be old-style cricket matches), the return of the Timberwork Lumberjack Show, our favorite jugglers, and horse-riding exhibitions by Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, among other entertainments.
We find it’s more fun if you submit something for competition (especially because you get to go to the fair for free). But if you want to submit, you’ll need a Competitive Exhibit Handbook (best number to call: 516.572.0246 or go to www.lifair.org ), which tells you the criteria for entries in the culinary arts, poultry, agricultural skills (who is in for crosscut sawing?), fruits and vegetable and other craft categories. In a bid to encourage more entries, there are bonus tickets for folks who recruit new participants to the craft categories (the culinary categories are all pretty full already). And get cracking on your cookies, because by September my little guy will be ready to throw down!