The annual Long Island Fair celebrates 177 years of agriculture as the festivities commenced on Saturday. Housed at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, the fair is the perfect way to kick off the fall season.
“Nassau County is proud to be the home to New York State’s oldest fair,” said County Executive Laura Curran in a statement. “Come on down to enjoy some wholesome family fun. Enjoy a stroll through the village, check out the old-time reenactors and explore the butterfly and craft exhibits. Don’t miss the fairgrounds section to enter the corn husking contests, cheer on the pig races, enjoy the circus and magic shows and much more. We are so fortunate to have a historic cultural attraction in our very own backyard.”
This tradition has countless competitive exhibits, local craft vendors and activities for all age groups. Anyone can showcase their skills and engage in friendly competition for the coveted blue ribbon.
“There is something for everyone. Grandparents, parents and children alike come to the event and end up having a great time,” Long Island Fair Manager Gary Haglich explained. “It is a multigenerational event that mixes traditional and contemporary elements.”
Unlike other fairs or exhibitions in the area, the Long Island Fair is the official New York state fair for Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties. The event also only occurs in the fall.
When first created, the fair was always hosted in October right around or after the gathering of fresh crops.
“Fall is the perfect time,” Haglich said. “We do a heaviest pumpkin contest, where people can enter a raffle to win the pumpkin. Vendors also put fresh fruit and flowers on display because of the harvest.”
The competitive exhibits are focused more on crafting, culinary and garden skills. This year, the fair added back the poetry competition and continues to add more and more excitement.
“The exhibition hall helps guests get a sense of the community,” Haglich mentioned. “The fair is a place where people come and bring their flowers, produce and crafts for competition or display.”
In addition to the traditional entertainment, guests can partake in magic and puppet shows, leather making, hat making and dance lessons. The fair will also be featuring modern acts including Swifty Swine Pig Racing, an Aquabatics Show, the amazing Circus Dubois act and many others.
The fair has come a long way since its beginnings in 1841 when the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties was created. The society worked to develop the Queens County Fair solely using members’ farming areas or large vacant spaces.
In 1970, the fair was moved to the Old Bethpage Village Restoration and was renamed to the Long Island Fair. Like the original location, these grounds were built through the support of the public. During this time, the Agricultural Society officially partnered with Nassau County to help further the growth of the community and its surrounding events.
“Every fall, the Long Island Fair pays homage to Nassau County’s roots and celebrates the change of seasons with family-friendly fun,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker said. “I hope everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the vendors, exhibits and attractions being presented at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a gem in our community that brings the past alive all year long through captivating historic events and educational programs.”
The Long Island Fair will continue next weekend as it will run from Sept. 28 to 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Old Bethpage Restoration Village. Haglich encourages those to come by and experience the tradition of the massive event.
“It is important that the fair has gone on for so long,” Haglich said. “There is a stewardship that people have, and we have the responsibility to keep it going in the future.”
—Additional reporting by Christopher Birsner
Courtney Shapiro is a contributing writer to Anton Media Group.