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Three County Fair sees its crowds dip  due to stormy Labor Day weekend weather

  • A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sophia Jodka, 11, of Amherst, makes friends with two piglets in the Baby Barnyard Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Sophia Jodka, 11, of Amherst, makes friends with two piglets in the Baby Barnyard Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Judah Glenn, 5, of Worcester, a volunteer from the audience, holds doves on his shoulders during a magic show by Lance Gifford, top, Monday at the Three-County Fair.JERREY ROBERTS

    Judah Glenn, 5, of Worcester, a volunteer from the audience, holds doves on his shoulders during a magic show by Lance Gifford, top, Monday at the Three-County Fair.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The audience reacts during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The audience reacts during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • A monster truck drives over a row of cars during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Sophia Jodka, 11, of Amherst, makes friends with two piglets in the Baby Barnyard Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Judah Glenn, 5, of Worcester, a volunteer from the audience, holds doves on his shoulders during a magic show by Lance Gifford, top, Monday at the Three-County Fair.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Grannie's Racing Pigs head to the finish line Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The audience reacts during a monster truck show Monday at the Three-County Fair.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

“The weather didn’t cooperate too much, but the fair went good,” said its general manager, Bruce Shallcross.

Compared to last year, attendance was down by around 20 percent. On Sunday, typically the busiest day of the fair, around 9,000 visitors were counted, a 15 percent drop from the year before, Shallcross said.

But those who did make their way to the fair he said, had good things to say about it.

Among highlights was the long-running demolition derby, which Shallcross said is a regular sellout Sunday night. Even though 200 seats were added to the grandstand this year, the venue filled to capacity, he said.

Crowds on the fairgrounds were thinner Monday than the day before. Rain caused most of the rides to be closed for an hour and a half in the morning. The sun made a brief appearance in the afternoon and visitors filled the grandstand for an afternoon monster truck show.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Florence native and fair volunteer Katie Ross said, as she watched trucks mow over rows of dilapidated vehicles.

Ross, who lives now in Whately, said she has been attending the fair for over 40 years. She enjoys seeing people she grew up with come back with their children and grandchildren. “It’s what we’d look forward to.”

And today, she said, she’s glad when amusements pull young people away from technology. “Look in the stands,” she said. “You don’t see any kids working on their iPhones.”

Another popular attraction Monday was a magic show put on by a traveling magician from Florida, Lance Gifford, and his assistant, Jarrod Blocker.

Gifford invited audience volunteer Judah Glenn, 5, of Worcester, up onto the stage to help him as he made two doves appear — seemingly out of thin air, then turned those two doves into a large white rabbit.

Both the audience and Gifford were caught off-guard when Gifford asked Judah to pet the rabbit, which became so startled it let loose a torrent of urine. Judah didn’t flinch and remained smiling through it all. Shortly after, using his tricks, Gifford turned the rabbit into a poodle.

Gifford asked Judah how he liked the show, and the child answered: “Cool, except for the pee.” Judah was in town with his parents, Lucas and Lora Glenn, and three siblings: Willow, 8, Mystic, 3, and Corrie, 2.

Lora Glenn said her family came to the Three County Fair for the first time this year because they love Northampton and wanted to experience the local fair.

The magician’s performance, she said, was the first show they watched that day. “It was definitely mysterious,” she said.

Shallcross said that Gifford’s Saturday and Sunday night performances, which included a hypnotist show and were more geared toward adults, also drew large audiences.

Meanwhile, the second day of the Renaissance jousting matches pulled fairgoers into the Arena Building.

The audience became especially lively when Patrick “Sir Patrick” Neill fell from his horse during a “melee” — when the jousters fight each other with clubs while on horseback — with Tom “Sir Tom” Nader.

“Him and Tom are kind of like brothers,” said Mary Neill, 33, Patrick’s wife and the head squire for the event. She said she thought the event drew the best crowd on Monday.

“We didn’t have to engage them as much to keep them cheering,” she said.

The day before, Tom’s wife, Kim “Dame Kim” Nader, had called out to the audience from her horse, asking them to cheer.

Patrick Neill, 33, of Greenville, Ohio, said the fall was unexpected. “The hits aren’t choreographed. It is what it is,” said Neill. “No two shows are the same.”

While some fairgoers had previously learned of jousting from history books and television, others said they were unfamiliar. Todd Hobbs of Whately said he was familiar with jousting from stories such as “King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table” and “Camelot,” and from the 2001 film “A Knight’s Tale” starring the late Heath Ledger.

He said it was his first time seeing a jousting event in the Valley. “It’s nice to have something like this come around here,” he said. “It’s really cool to see.”

Hobbs, who is originally from Northampton, said he comes to the fair every year. He was there Monday with his wife, Sara, their 2-year-old daughter, Aylin, and 6-month-old son, Tristan.

Bill Miller of Leeds said he had not previously heard of jousting, and thought it sounded like something his daughter, Haley, would enjoy watching. After the show, Haley, 8, described it as “epic.”

“I don’t get to do that, and it was pretty cool to see people do that,” she said.

Shallcross said he will likely bring jousting back next year, because of the support it received this weekend.

Given the rain, Shallcross said he was pleased with the turnout.

“No matter what you do in the outside event business, you’re subject to the weather,” he said.

Related

It's downright medieval: Jousting 'knights' face off at Three County Fair

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — Fairgoers were transported back to the 15th century when a jousting match took place at the Three County Fair on Sunday. Jousting is a medieval sport in which knights on horseback charge toward one another and try to break a lance on their opponent. General Manager Bruce Shallcross predicted that for most fairgoers, it would be a novelty. …

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