Three County Fair thrills and delights

  • Sam Jenkins, 10, of Westhampton relaxes against his team during a break in the Youth Oxen Show competition on Saturday at the Three County Fair in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Team FMX Motocross Jump Show riders Ed Rossi, left, of Florida and Travis Webber of New York perform stunts in tandem during their show on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carolyn Lantz of the Aussie Kingdom Australian animal show holds an 8-year-old blue-tongued skink for a small crowd including Avery Kostek, left, 5, of South Hadley and Charlie Nuttycombe, 2, of Connecticut on Saturday at the Three County Fair in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Matt Nuttycombe and his son Charlie, 2, of Connecticut appreciate a four-year-old woma python held by Aussie Kingdom president Carolyn Lantz following her Australian animals show at the Three County Fair in Northampton on Saturday, September 1, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kelcie Cooke, top, and son Charlie, 5, of Northampton enjoy the Orient Express on Saturday, the second day of the 201st-anniversary Three County Fair in Northampton. In the first two cars are Abbie and Andy Haber of Easthampton with their children Skyler, 2, and Sydney, 5. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cole Dunham, 11, of Ware drives his team of Ginger and Snap to pulll a log during the Youth Oxen Show on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at the Three County Fair in Northampton. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Team FMX Motocross Jump Show rider Ed Rossi of Florida gets a reaction from the crowd after a high-flying stunt on Saturday, September 1, 2018, the second day of the 200th anniversary Three County Fair in Northampton. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A five-month-old Bennett's Wallaby, below, peers out of the pouch of his mother on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at the Three County Fair in Northampton. The pair was part of the Aussie Kingdom Australian animal show at the fair. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Team FMX Motocross Jump Show riders Ed Rossi, left, of Florida and Travis Webber of New York perform stunts in tandem during their show on Saturday, September 1, 2018, the second day of the 200th anniversary Three County Fair in Northampton. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ed Rossi of Florida wows the crowd during the Team FMX Motocross Jump Show on Saturday at the Three County Fair in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jonah Shattuck, 17, of West Brookfield leads his team of Fred and George to pull a log through the senior class of the Youth Oxen Show on Saturday, September 1, 2018, at Three County Fair in Northampton. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/1/2018 5:27:30 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Valley’s agricultural roots were on full display at the fairgrounds this weekend for the 201st Three County Fair.

Visitors walking in from the western entrance by Route 9 heard the bellowing of cows mooing, the crowing of roosters, and even the loud heaving of early 1900s engine-powered machines on a warm, slightly cloudy Saturday morning.

“OK boys, put in … whoa now,” said Sam Jenkins, 10, of Westhampton, as he instructed his pair of oxen to back up so he could latch them onto a rusted cart. He and eight other contestants of the youth cart course competed by maneuvering their young oxen around obstacles and were judged not on speed, but by their technique.

“I see the kids doing this at the fairs as keeping the tradition alive,” Tom Jenkins, Sam’s father, said. He works as a forester and helped organize the cart pulling event.

“It’s good for them to learn responsibility, working with a team, training. It teaches you patience, working with animals,” Tom Jenkins said.

The Three County Fair began Friday evening and runs through Monday with a pig race scheduled as the last event at 6 p.m. Those attending the fair over the weekend were treated to an abundance of activities, with carnival games and rides, musical performances, motocross jump shows, and school bus derbies across the four days of the nation’s oldest agricultural fair.

Joel Carr, 80, of Goshen, had his gasoline-powered corn grinder from 1917 churning out fine bits of grain under his tent just like he’s done for the past 10 years at the fair. His corn grinder was among nearly 15 other early 1900s machines, sputtering and clunking next to the oxen demonstration. Other equipment included a large hay baler and a wood saw with sharp, jagged teeth.

“I like building it and putting it together,” Carr said. “The motor wasn’t even on the cart before. I built the cart, and about two years ago, I decided to put a platform on the back to put on the grinder and put it together. It used to pump water but now it’s pumping corn.”

Amusement rides

In the midway section of the fairgrounds, young children dragged their parents by the hand around to the numerous rides and carnival games to choose from. Rides, with names such as Tornado and Cliff Hanger, gave thrill seeking visitors the opportunity to fly in spinning delight.

Lizzie Barker, 6, of Longmeadow, enjoyed the fair so much, she said, “I want to live here!”

She and her brother, William, 3, rode on the Ferris wheel, and he said, “I could see everything!”

Thousands were expected to attend the fair over the four days. On Saturday, visitors wearing baseball caps, sunglasses, cowboy boots, and colorful dresses strolled about the fairgrounds among the fried dough carts, beer tents, and grilled food vendors.

“We caught the tail end of the motocross show and it was awesome,” Nina Barszcz, of Florence, said. She and her two children were about to grab some lunch and said they had gone on “so many” amusement rides.

Ali and Adam Grabell, of Amherst, were with their children, Evan, 4, and Sloan, 6, for the second year in a row at the fair.

“We’ve been hitting all the rides, they just want to keep going on them,” Ali said with a laugh.

“We just went on the Frog Hopper!” said Sloan.

Motocross jump show

The instantly recognizable guitar riff of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” signaled the start of the Team FMX freestyle motocross show.

Ed Rossi, of Florida, and Travis Webber, of New York, put on a high-flying stunt show in front of the fairground’s arena building to a crowd of about 50. Their motocross engines revved loudly as they launched off one ramp 30 feet into the air.

“Freestyle motocrossers drive off crowd participation, crowd energy and applause, so the louder and crazier you guys get, the bigger the tricks will be,” Rossi said through the nicrophone, to which the crowd aptly responded with enthusiasm.

The crowd, ranging from the young to the old, cheered and hollered for the motocross riders, who began gravity-defying tricks in response.

While in the middle of the air, Rossi fully extended his arms and body before coming crashing down on the landing ramp. Webber would let go of the bike completely while at the peak of his jump, and grab it once again at the very last minute before landing.

In turn, the crowd “wooed” and applauded the daredevil tricks. After 20 minutes, the motocross show concluded with both riders launching simultaneously.

“He did a flip! Oh my god, he did a flip!” a young boy of about 5 yelled out.

The Three County Fair continues on Monday with agricultural exhibits, a farm museum, a school bus demolition derby at 1 p.m., among other events and activities.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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