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‘A Little Something for Everyone’ at NJ State Fair

Fair/Farm & Horse Show comes to the Sussex County Fairgrounds from Aug. 2 through 11.

A young man brings in his prize cow. Credit: Kathy Cafasso.
A young man brings in his prize cow. Credit: Kathy Cafasso.
You may wish to see a few rusted lawn mowers play bumper cars with one another, or sit back to enjoy exquisitely trained horses race around carefully placed barrels. Luckily, a fairgoer can witness this and much more at the upcoming events in Augusta.

With additional draws such as vegetable and horse shows, flower expositions and classic farming techniques, the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show hopes to captivate just about all residents from the surrounding area. It will be staked out at the Sussex County Fairgrounds from Aug. 2 through 11.

Animals of All Sorts

Open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on all of those days except its last, the fair is the largest agricultural festivity of its kind in the state, according to New Jersey State Fair’s Media Coordinator, Kathy Cafasso.

With outdoor and family entertainment areas, there are always major events going on. Plus, also on hand are six barns’ full of animals, including show ones who are judged upon ‘best in breed.’

These animals include alpacas, sheep, pigs, cows, goats, dwarf goats, geese, chickens and more. 

Aside from the always-appealing animal collection, the Fair also boasts demolition derbies, horseshoe tournaments, truck and tractor pulls and of course the entertainment of a family-run carnival.  

“They’ve been with us for a number of years,” said Cafasso of the carnival segment of the Fair. “It’s not huge, but we’re comfortable with the size. We have rides for all age groups… it is family-run, and they’re easy to work with.”

At the moment, all of the rides are set up, but an exhaustive inspection process conducted by the state is currently being undertaken, with the help of 12 to 15 inspectors.

Week’s Schedule

Aug. 5 has been deemed Green Day, and there will be a large number of green-related displays on hand.

The next day is Children’s Day, and a magician will be present to amuse the young ones, along with acts, groups and other hands-on activities.

Thursday will be Senior Day, and music, dancing and entertainment will be available for all older folks who come out.

Friday, Peters Valley Fine Arts Crafters will be on hand to explain their craft and sell items such as pots, metal works, jewelry, etc.

There’s also a building set up solely for children’s entertainment, which includes pedal tractor pulls, scarecrows, outdoor laundry with scrub boards and old-fashioned farming tactics.

There also will be a vegetable show, flower expo, landscape design contest and of course, fair food.

“And you get 99 percent of all that with admission,” said Cafasso. “But the demo derby and barrel race do require a separate fee.”

Biggest Draw

Taking in an array of calls from parents year-round, Cafasso said that at the Fair, personnel are notably proud of the agricultural segment of the 10-day festivity.

“There’s so little of this anymore,” she said. “Especially in our county, which is supposed to be an agricultural one. You just don’t see it anymore…a kid next to a sheep, close to animals.”

“Every parent calls in, and (seeing the animals) is there number-one question,” said Cafasso, also noting that children can sit back and watch three horse rings with owners schooling their horses.

“You know, most blacktop carnivals have a couple of animals,” she continued. “But here, (there’s so many) and owners are right next to people ready to provide information.”

Aside from the overall agricultural aura to the events, there’s also an agricultural museum that was donated by a local family. In it are machines such as corn grinders, ice cutters and a farm kitchen set up to resemble what it would have been like during farming’s supremacy. Usually, members of the local historical society are present in the kitchen, displaying and explaining all of the equipment.

Here’s another one to add to the list: vegetable and flower shows! There are all different classes, including those for children, and you don’t have to be a grower per se, to enjoy the events. For example, in the flower category, you can learn how to grow them, and see what others have accomplished, or learn how to charmingly arrange them.

Private Nonprofit

On the contrary of what many may believe, the fair is not funded or sponsored by the state.

According to Cafasso, it’s a privately owned nonprofit, funded solely by sponsors.

The Fair has been in existence since the 1930s, when it would rent grounds to hold the event. In 1976, it arrived at its permanent location, where today it continues to entertain the likes of people young and old, from all walks of life. 

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