Fun for all at the fair
By BECKY MALEWITZ
Road Side Park in Syracuse had something for everyone attending the Hamilton County Fair on Saturday — corn hole and horseshoe tournaments for the adults, turtle races for the kids, and free food for everyone.
Hamilton County Fair Board President Deb Mitchell wanted to get the community involved in this year's festivities.
"We just try to have fun, get the community involved. This is one of the big events for Syracuse, because we're so small," she said. "We just want people to have fun and that's what we are striving to do. The board is trying to build the fair back up and make it better."
One of the highlights for the younger crowd at Saturday's festivities was the annual turtle races. Kids and their parents crowded in a circle, cheering their favorite reptiles to victory.
"The turtle races have been going on a long time, since I've been here, and I've been here 20 some years," Mitchell said. "It's like an annual thing; it's what all the kids look forward to. We have families who bring extra turtles, so if the kids don't have any, they can race turtles, too."
Mitchell estimated that there were close to 50 participants in this year's races, which were broken up into five age groups. Participants spend the weeks leading up to the event looking for turtles to race.
Syracuse resident Cassy Thompson's 5-year-old daughter Natalie is an old pro when it comes to turtle racing.
"This is her third (year racing). We found it (the turtle) out on the River Road two days ago. Actually, our mail carrier found the turtle for us," Thompson said. "The kids love it; they have a fun time doing it. It's something that the little kids can do."
Britney Miguel, who grew up in Syracuse, now has three children who participated in Saturday's races.
"It's more fun for me to see them getting all excited to do everything. My brother has been out watching for turtles and he caught about eight of them for all of us," she said as her children continued to race their turtles with a small group of kids, even after the official races had finished.
Although Mitchell was worried that this year's fair attendance would suffer because of recent high temperatures, she was pleased with Saturday's turnout at Road Side Park. She added that this year's horseshoe tournament had 25 teams, which is more than in the past.
As a mother of young children, Thompson appreciates the variety of events the Hamilton County Fair offers, noting that her kids were looking forward to the ranch rodeo later Saturday evening and the Pedal Tractor Pull Wednesday.
"My husband played in the corn hole tournament and the horseshoe tournament, but I do all the stuff with the little kids," she said.
The Hamilton County Fair continues through Saturday in Syracuse. A schedule of events can be found online at www.hamiltoncountyfairgrounds.com.