October 20, 2021

Cortland County Junior Fair returns next week

You’ve probably endured a Zoom meeting; maybe you wore pants. Now try to raise cattle, or a goat or rabbits via teleconference. It’s just not the same.

So when the Cortland County Fairgrounds opens Tuesday to the 67th annual Cortland County Junior Fair, the livestock shows, fried foods and rides will be a novelty in celebrating a tradition. The fair will feature more than 150 kids participating in the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program; the winners will be eligible to compete at the New York State Fair.

“It’s all about the kids — it’s very important for them — this is kind of the highlight of their year,” said 4-H team leader Rebecca Ireland-Perry. “These kids have been raising animals, working with them, doing projects all throughout the year and this is their chance to come and shine — really show off what they’ve been doing, what they’ve learned throughout the year.”

Although the fair was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students brought their animals for one-day shows for the judges before going home.

This year, the fair is back in full swing — featuring the kids’ livestock shows and a Fair Queen contest along with new events including a Tractors of Yesteryear display and an antique-tractor pull.

Admission is free, although the Midway rides will require a $20 wristband for entry, according to the fair’s Facebook page.

The 4-H will have food fundraisers throughout the fair, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, chicken tenders and more.

“On Wednesday, we’ll have an animal costume contest, which is a fun thing for kids to dress up as their animals and parade through the show ring,” Ireland-Perry said. “Then on Friday we have the junior Iron Chef contest — we’ve got six teams competing on that — along with other fun things for the kids to do.”

The Cornell Cooperative Extension website says the fair will follow state COVID-19 guidelines, and there will be signs posted across the fairgrounds to remind visitors to maintain safety.

Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, 4-H clubs countywide were unable to meet in-person, Ireland-Perry said, resorting to the occasional virtual meeting instead.

“A lot of the 4-H clubs didn’t meet at all. It was hard, we did some programs by Zoom but it just wasn’t the same,” Ireland-Perry said. “Now, they’ll be able to get together and do activities together. That’s the fun part of it, just having everybody back in-person and being able to catch up and have fun.”