The Schoharie County Sunshine Fair’s slogan––“the best six days of summer”––doesn’t apply this year.
Cancelled for the first time in more than 70 years, the Fair was a casualty of COVID.
To ease the pain, the Times-Journal this week has a 12-page section celebrating past Fairs and all that they featured. And although the section is a salute to Schoharie County’s signature event, it can’t replace the real thing.
The Cobleskill Agricultural Society cancelled the Fair in late June, waiting until the latest possible day.
“Before that, people I don’t even know––but they recognize me––would come up and say, ‘Doug, please don’t cancel the Fair,’ ” said Doug Cater, Fair president.
“We’re very disappointed, but we couldn’t foresee how to operate.”
Lots of people may take the Fair for granted, something that arrives routinely every August. But Mr. Cater knows the Fair reaches deep into the county’s summer fabric.
“Many, many people prepare for the Fair,” he said. “People growing vegetables and flowers, students doing artwork to show, 4-H kids planning all summer, people waiting for the equine show.
“It’s your Fair. . .something for everyone.”
And everyone will miss it this year.
Preparing for a normal Fair is a lot of work involving dozens of employees and volunteers. That’s not the case this year, but still. . .
“This is the most stressful year in the 40-some years I’ve been with the Fair,” Mr. Cater said, “and that’s God’s honest truth.
“The Fair is a lot of work, but it’s fun.”
For Mr. Cater, this year is personal. He’s spent decades connected to the Fair in some way––showing vegetables, running boat rides, racing trotters, serving on the Fair Board and now, president longer than any other in the Fair’s 143 years.
“Our kids grew up with it,” he said. “And the people who come back year after year, they’re just like family.”
Not this year. The Fairgrounds were quiet during what was supposed to be Fair Week, August 10-15, and Schoharie County missed out on what Mr. Cater called one of its finest traditions.
If there’s a silver lining, Mr. Cater found it: Building anticipation for 2021.
“Next year we’ll be back, bigger and better than ever,” he said.
SPECIAL FAIR TRIBUTE--PHOTOS, FEATURES AND MORE--IN THIS WEEK'S T-J.