CHATHAM — When it comes to this yearly Columbia County tradition, locals and out-of-towners alike rate it more than fair.
The 178th annual Columbia County Fair in Chatham continued Sunday with opportunities to hit the rides, pet animals and listen to a set by county band Parmalee at the fair’s grandstand.
The fair is attended by many families, and Sunday was no exception.
For Etienne Bissonnette, of Livingston, the annual fair was all for his children, he said, adding he and his family are first-time attendees.
“I come for my children,” Bissonnette said. “I enjoy seeing my son having fun.”
Coming to the fair is nostalgic for Vicki Crocco, of Selkirk, who’s been attending since childhood, she said.
“We saved our money up to come to the fair,” Crocco said. “We’ve been here four days in a row — we’re lifetime members.”
Crocco and other visitors to the fair Saturday had to park down the road from the fair in a lot off Route 66 because no parking was found at the fairgrounds, she said.
“The traffic was horrible,” she noted.
Crocco came to the fair with her niece Tatiana Paustian, of Mahopac, whose favorite part of the fair are the pepperoni heroes made by the Greenport Pumper Company No. 3, Paustian said, adding Columbia County’s fair is bigger than others.
“The pepperoni heroes are the best — I love to eat,” Paustian said.
Brandon Kinnis, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, brought his three children ranging in age from 3 to 7 to the fair and they enjoy looking at the animals and many other attractions, Kinnis said.
“They like to look at everything,” Kinnis said with a laugh. “We usually come out and make a day of it.”
Visitors had numerous options when it came to food and beverages, including sausage and peppers, fried Oreos, buckets of French fries and lemonade, an all-time fair favorite.
Nine Nails Lemonade & Smoothies, of Elizaville, has been selling its fresh-squeezed lemonade, tea and smoothies for 16 years using ingredients from local suppliers, and all recipes come from owners Michael and Melissa Jordan. No preservatives are used in Nine Nails’ beverages, Michael Jordan said.
“The peach tea is peaches, fresh-brewed iced tea, and we mix it together with a little sugar,” he said. “It’s all natural, it’s something you can’t get off the shelf in a store.”
Nine Nails was originally a nail salon run by Melissa Jordan and the name came about because part of her finger was cut off above the joint of her pinky in a door when she was a child, Michael Jordan said.
“When we were doing this we had to go legal, we just took the DBA [“Doing Business As” designation] and we moved to Nine Nails Lemonade,” he said. “Everybody asks us ‘What’s Nine Nails?’ I say, ‘My wife only has nine fingers.’”
Visitors’ favorite beverages from the stand include strawberry lemonade and strawberry banana smoothies, Michael Jordan said. He’s received compliments about his lemonade in unlikely places.
“I was in the DMV the other day and she [the clerk] said, ‘Oh, you’re the guys with the good lemonade up in Chatham,’ and I said, ‘I guess that’s me,’” Michael Jordan said. “People wait all year to come here, that’s what I’ve heard.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.