A prize winning pumpkin or a blue ribbon apple pie might seem better suited to the Amish county than a suburb of Manhattan, but indeed, the good fun and neighborly traditions of our agricultural heritage are thriving this weekend at the 170th Long Island Fair.
Held annually at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, The Long Island Fair is the official New York State sponsored County Fair for Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The event was first held as the Queens County Fair back in 1842, when family farms dotted the landscape of Long Island.
The event is co-sponsored by the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties, one of the oldest agricultural societies in the United States. Originally held on member’s farms and vacant lots in Hempstead and Mineola, the society acquired fairgrounds in 1866 on Old Country Road in Mineola, today the site of the County Court Complex. A focal point of the fairground was the Grand Exhibition Hall. For years, the event was known at the Mineola Fair, before it moved to its current home at Old Bethpage Village Restoration in 1970 where the Grand Exhibition Hall has been reconstructed for the annual autumn celebration.
Strolling the fairgrounds is like a walk back in time to a simpler era. One is surrounded by the smells of food and the sounds of farm animals and traditional fiddle music.
Inside the Grand Exhibition Hall, the handicrafts of gardeners, bakers and quilters are displayed, many pinned with prize-winning ribbons for “First-in-Show” awarded by the society.
Many are forging a new agricultural tradition on Long Island. Restoration Farm is well represented at the fair with a bounty of autumn vegetables transported from the nearby fields by electric tractor.
The agricultural exhibit features the impressive yields of farmers and gardeners all over the region, including the largest pumpkin grown on Long Island this season.
There are more than a few bushels of locally-grown apples for snacking.
Who can resist an old-fashioned homemade treat, like these pumpkin glazed donuts? Certainly not me!
Everywhere the fruits of the soil dazzle the eye.
It all kind of makes you yearn for the simplicity of a kinder and gentler time, until you realize that moment is right now, and fortunately for Long Island residents, baking, quilting, planting, getting your hands dirty and harvesting your own food hasn’t gone out of style.
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