Roar of engines, rolling of logs at 202nd Three County Fair

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  • Amelia Jandzis, 3, of Chicopee stands eye-to-eye with a Tuvis yearling ewe resting in the livestock barn at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Saturday. The sheep had been shown by the Charest Small Fry Farm Continued, of Brimfield, earlier in the day. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michael Helsmoortel and his daughter, Michelle, 5, of Boston hold hands on the giant slide at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Olivia Yurrita, center, 8, of Framingham and Kaylee Hettrick, left, 5, of West Springfield take turns putting a spin on their Tea Cup at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Macie Aiello, 4, of Holyoke tries to lasso a plywood cow from a saddle about 12 feet away in the Baby Barnyard at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/2/2019 12:01:38 AM

NORTHAMPTON — As Labor Day weekend marked the ending of summer, the historic Three County Fair returned with amusement rides, lumberjack shows, and farm animals to close out the season.

In its 202nd iteration, the fair celebrated the agricultural character of the surrounding region while providing musical performances, competitions that showcased automobile feats, and fried food galore among other attractions and events throughout the four-day affair.

“Step right up, everyone wins a prize!” yelled a man working a carnival game. For 25 cents, fairgoers could try their hand at tossing red rubber rings onto glass jugs for an oversized stuffed pig or alpaca. Small children carried their prizes over their shoulders, beaming as they walked the fairgrounds.

Parents attempted to keep up with their children as they skipped and ran towards the next amusement ride, going from the drop tower towards a pendulum swing.

Eight-year-old Andalucia Wein, of Northampton, said her favorite part of the day was the bungee trampoline.

“It was super fun, and I did multiple flips,” she said. “I did a double back flip and a front flip.” She looked forward to going on the Ferris wheel next.

Andalucia visited the fair with some family friends, and 2-year-old Logan Pietri said “hot dog!” was his favorite part of the day.

Throughout Sunday, roaring engines could be heard across the fairgrounds as trucks and tractors tested their mechanical might in a pulling competition with over 50 vehicles.

Loud as fighter jets, trucks and tractors in nine different categories attempted to pull a large transfer sled as far as possible before being dragged to a complete stop by the sled’s weight. Some trucks were street legal while others were custom-built, and tractors outfitted with high-powered engines and 18-inch wheels revved and rumbled to the crowd’s delight.

Country music tumbled out of the arena’s speakers as trucks with decals such as “Still a dumb idea” and “Hellbent” dragged the transfer sled anywhere between 250 to 300 feet. The large transfer sled had a moving weight that would move forward, making the sled heavier, forcing the truck or tractor to slow down to a stop around 300-foot mark. The sled can weigh as much as 40,000 pounds, but a driver in the sled controls how much weight is being put down.

Jim Porter, 62, has been pulling for over 40 years. His vehicle is a modified two-wheel-drive tractor with a custom frame, a special-built racing motor with “tons of power,” and a copper body with “Outlaw” etched on the side.

“It’s a competition to see who has got the best vehicle, that’s all it is,” said Porter, who is originally from Worthington but lives near the Cape now. He competes all over New England in pulling competitions.

Elsewhere, exhibits in barns were dedicated to the agricultural history of the fair. Old rusted farming tools lay in small displays. Red tractors used in the 1950s by Hatfield farmers were pristine and had a waxed shine to them, defying age with their renewed appearance.

Ruth Collazo admired the agricultural exhibits showcasing the fruits and vegetables grown from local farms, especially the apples and cherry tomatoes.

“They’re awesome,” said Collazo, who is from Florida and visited family over the weekend. “Too bad they have a screen, otherwise I would reach in grab them! They look so good.”

Earlier in the day, the Indian River Old Time Lumberjack Show held springboard chopping, log rolling and ax throwing demonstrations.

Robbie Bosco, a four-time birling, or log rolling, New York junior state champion, walked onto a large log bobbing in an above-ground pool. His feet scurried as the log rolled under him, and they never stopped moving. His eyes focused on the log as he expertly and deftly kept his balance on the rolling log.

A crowd cheered as he walked across the log, but then there was a moment of hesitation as Bosco attempted to jump onto a platform at the other end. He waited, waited and finally lurched forward, only to lose his footing and fall into the pool. The crowd still cheered him on as he dragged himself out.

The show is fashioned after traditional logging competitions, said Bob Bosco, owner and manager of the show, but they try to incorporate some humor as well.

Still, lumbering is another facet of New England history celebrated at the fair.

“Lumbering, this is what the Northeast was founded on,” said Bob Bosco, an upstate New York resident. “It has tremendous ties to our country.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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