Columbia County Fair off and running, Charlie Daniels on tap

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The Charlie Daniels Band will headline the Columbia County Fair with two shows on Sunday
CHATHAM—The Columbia County Fair opened at 5 p.m. Wednesday, kicking off six days of "Simply Country" fun. Headlining this year’s fair is the Charlie Daniels Band, back by popular for two shows on Sunday. Every day offers lots to see and do, with a daily theme pulling it all together. And for the first time this year, Amusements of America offers discounted midway ride passes every day. Thursday is Youth Day, with afternoon performances by the award-winning singing group the Dinner Dogs and ventriloquist Sylvia Markson and her Magic Trunk puppets. The day includes two dog agility shows and gymnastics demonstrations, hot dog and pie eating contests and a hat contest. The ever-popular Demolition Derby tops off the evening. Youngsters under age 18 enter for free till 4 p.m. Friday is Golden Oldies Day, with the sixties girl group the Shangri-Las ("Leader of the Pack") and The Regents ("Barbara Ann") doing two Main Stage shows, at 5 and 8:15 p.m., leading up to fireworks at 10 p.m. Fair-goers should dress in their best sixties garb to enter the Oldies Costume Contest and/or the Dance Contest with a disc jockey spinning the tunes at the NorthGate Stage from 8 till 10 p.m. A Thunderbird car club and the Ridge Runners will display their cars at the new Midway Exposition Tent. Saturday is Emergency Services Day, with the huge 55th Annual Firemen’s Parade at noon. Firematic and police displays as well as a K-9 Dog Show will be set up. The Skeeter Creek Band plays bluegrass at the NorthGate Stage at 3 and 8 p.m. and the Judah Band performs gospel at noon and 5 p.m. Then, the Monster Tractor Pull roars into action in front of the grandstands at 7 p.m., belching and smoking and pounding their way down the track to claim the state championship trophy. Super-Star Sunday is Charlie Daniels Day this year, playing his own brand of R&B, country, rock and bluegrass. The multi-Grammy Award-winner brings his high octane performance for two great Main Stage shows, at and 3 and 8:30 p.m. Fair-goers should plan on arriving early. Free shuttle buses will provide transport from off-grounds parking when the on-grounds parking is full. The perennial favorite Schoolgirl Contest has been revamped and starts a half-hour early this year, at 6:30 p.m., to give the crowd a chance to hear from the girls directly. Meanwhile, at the NorthGate Stage, bluesman Ernie Williams does two shows, at 4 and 7 p.m., and the acoustic guitar group WE Band performs at 2 and 9 p.m. Monday is Agriculture Appreciation Day, starting with an antique tractor pull and Open Horse Show starting at 9 a.m. and going till mid-afternoon. The Northeast Regional Southdown Sheep Show comes to the fair Labor Day for the first time. Also new is Skyhunters in Flight, with three fascinating raptor demonstrations at the NorthGate stage at 2, 4 and 7 p.m. Music Monday is courtesy of the Ghent Band, performing traditional marches, and Pop!ternatives. Closing out the fair Monday night in front of the grandstands at 7 p.m. is the RBF Rodeo, which drew a standing-room-only crowd last year. Everyday 4-H runs dozens of activities and competitions. The barns and stalls are full of animals competing for trophies and ribbons while more than 150 exhibitors offer a wide variety of wares. In the Antique Building, the Wool Booth and the Octagon Building, crafters demonstrate traditional skills. From quilts to niche farming, hand-spun wool to flowers, displays keep browsers busy. Admission, which includes daily grandstand entertainment and parking, is $8, $10 on Charlie Daniels Sunday. Wednesday, gates open at 5 p.m. The rest of the fair, the gates open at 10 a.m. Sponsors are: Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation, First Niagara Bank, The Independent, Amusements of America, Stan Martin Ford, Register-Star/Chatham Courier, Davis Tractor & Turf, Columbia Memorial Hospital, National Union Bank, Hudson Valley Orthopaedic Associates, Assemblyman Patrick Manning and Wildflower Horse Treats. Handling advance sale tickets until opening day were local Agway stores, Price Chopper and First Niagara. McDonald’s in Valatie and Hudson have midway ride discount coupons good for Labor Day. For information and directions, go to www.columbiafair.com or call (518) 392-2121.
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