Four-day Cummington Fair packs in the crowds

  • Seventeen-year-old Claire Wasileski of Colrain tends to her 8-month-old Holstein calf, Bonnie, following the Youth Livestock Competition at the Cummington Fair, Saturday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • aren Podlesney of South Deerfield gets a kiss from Dollar as 17-year-old Sam Peila of Gill looks on following the Youth Livestock Competition at the Cummington Fair Saturday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Circus performer Shane Hansen enthralls children and parents with his Rock-N-Circus performance at the Cummington Fair Saturday. Hansen juggled, performed aerial tricks, stunts with audience members, and even leapt from a 60-foot-high tower right at the center of the fairgrounds in Cummington. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • All the classic carnival rides were laid out along the back of the Cummington Fairgrounds, Saturday, as kids crowded in to enjoy the thrill during the 153rd annual Cummington Fair. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • All the classic carnival rides were laid out along the back of the Cummington Fairgrounds, Saturday, as kids crowded in to enjoy the thrill during the 153rd annual Cummington Fair. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks play an afternoon set on the Main Stage at the Cummington Fair Saturday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Psychic Bruce Hoskins and his daughter, Red Hoskins, both of New Hampshire, offer their fortune-telling services at the Cummington Fair for the sixth straight year. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

Staff Writer
Published: 8/28/2022 8:52:23 PM
Modified: 8/28/2022 8:48:43 PM

CUMMINGTON — While most people were still sleeping, 17-year-old Clare Wasileski was out in a dark barn at 5 o’clock Saturday morning, washing up an 8-month-old Holstein named Bonnie.

The Colrain resident was one of several young people who were competing in the 4-H and Youth Livestock event in the show ring at the Cummington Fair. Between her work on an area dairy farm and her involvement with the Franklin County 4-H Dairy Club for the past six years, the teenager has cultivated a real love for dairy cows.

“I just really like dairying,” she said, while her black-and-white sidekick attempted to pose appropriately whenever a camera appeared. “And Bonnie has just the best personality. She may not have perked up like this in the ring, but when a camera comes around, she does this.”

Thousands of visitors, both local and beyond, attended the four-day fair at the Cummington Fairgrounds, according to Karen Rida, secretary of the Hillside Agricultural Society, who organizes the event.

A severe thunderstorm with particularly blustery conditions led to a particularly low turnout on Friday, she said. For a brief time, the storm knocked down power lines, leaving fairgoers without access to the ATM or staff to phone lines.

But with a bright and sunny forecast Saturday — historically the most well-attended day — the turnout of fairgoers increased significantly, with traffic backing up close to Route 9.

As children and families entered the bustling fairgrounds, game operators beckoned their next challengers and food vendors served up fried dough larger than the heads of most consumers. In the outdoor arena, circus performer Shane Hansen juggled and twirled through the air as he performed stunts with the audience and even leapt from a 60-foot high tower at the center of the fairgrounds.

After filling up arena seats, attendees lined the fences to get a view of the many activities presented throughout the day, from the Ox Teamster’s Challenge at the Lumberjack Arena to the antique tractor demonstration.

Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks strummed out two sets on the main stage at 3 and 5 p.m.

On the other side of the grandstand was father-daughter duo Bruce and Red Hoskins from New Hampshire. The duo, who go by “Lord Aiden Fafnir and Spawn,” have been providing psychic readings at the venue since 2015.

Bruce Hoskins developed the character of Lord Aiden Fafnir after performing at renaissance fairs over the last two decades. Red, who grew up attending the fairs, was given the nickname “spawn” and it stuck.

During that time, Red learned the basics of psychic readings and how to interpret tarot from her father, until she discovered and developed her own psychic abilities.

“I performed my first reading at 8 years old,” said Red. “And since then, I’ve just started tapping into my own abilities.”

The end of August officially kicks off the pair’s busy season, which goes into full swing by October when Bruce Hoskins is among the premier psychics featured in Salem. He also balances his readings with his full-time work as an environmental engineer.

“When October hits, I pretty much won’t see him until the end of the month,” said Red.

When attending agriculturally focused fairs like Cummington, Bruce said there are three types of people who pop into their booth: Those who want to be entertained, those who are trying to shame and/or stump them, and those who are deep believers and look at them like spiritual leaders.

“We’re very upfront, though. We’re just the interpreters of the arts. We are human and know that there is always more to learn about this work,” he said. “But we do love coming here. The Cummington Fair has such a wonderful energy. Every country fair since the beginning of time has had a fortune teller … and we’re glad to be part of that ongoing history.”


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