Wapping Fair adds special value to the community

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Tue., Aug. 23, 2011
Paul Petrillo, Melissa Conte, Phillip Gobetz, Debbie Burnham and Gordon Gibson are just some of the volunteers who make the Wapping Fair possible, seen here with Jennifer and Elizabeth, at the final Summer Concert, which was sponsored by the Wapping Fair. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Paul Petrillo, Melissa Conte, Phillip Gobetz, Debbie Burnham and Gordon Gibson are just some of the volunteers who make the Wapping Fair possible, seen here with Jennifer and Elizabeth, at the final Summer Concert, which was sponsored by the Wapping Fair. Photos by Martha Marteney.

As the 119th annual Wapping Fair draws near, volunteers are working hard to let the community know what the fair is all about.
“We’re bringing in a lot of new things,” said Wapping Fair President Paul Petrillo, “so it will not be the same-old, same-old.” In particular, there are many hands-on activities for kids and adults that will not only allow fair-goers to participate more, but also to learn, all the while enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of a local fair. And then, there’s the new bubble booth. ”It was the simplest, cool idea,” noted Petrillo.

“I enjoy [volunteering],” said Melissa Conte, a volunteer on the vendor-coordination committee. “And I love to see people have a good time.”

“As the community has changed, the kids these days are further removed from the concept of agriculture,” said Gordon Gibson, who has volunteered with the fair since 1969. At the same time, noted Gibson, there are more students applying for the agricultural high schools in Connecticut than there are available spots, as well as many young adults who are interested in home gardening.

Throughout the weekend of Sept. 8 to 11, fair-goers can learn how to make candles and butter, find out about organic lawn care or watch hand-crafted wood carvings. There will be a variety of contests each day, including cake-eating, cookie-stacking and sack races. In addition, children can participate in the Little Mister/Miss Farmer contest, a spelling bee and “South Windsor’s Got Talent.” For more information, visit the website wappingfair.org. “That’s the fun, value-added aspect, with lots of free activities,” said Petrillo. Plus, every fair-goer can take a chance at a game of Plinko.

In keeping with the agricultural focus, Saturday and Sunday have animal judging throughout the day. Petrillo noted that the judges will explain to the fair-goers the characteristics that make, for example, one goat “better” than the next. The judges will also ask the participating animal-handlers questions so that they may demonstrate their knowledge of animal showmanship. Children and adults are encouraged to enter the baking and arts and crafts competitions.

According to Petrillo, the Wapping Fair is the only annual town agricultural fair without a permanent home. This presents special logistical problems, including the supply of water and electricity. This is the 11th year in which the South Windsor Jaycees have organized the fair, and its fifth year at Evergreen Walk. “The Jaycees are very appreciative of the owner of Evergreen Walk,” said Petrillo.

During the fair, the new name for the Wapping Fair mascot will be announced. To make a suggestion, visit the South Windsor Jaycees’ Facebook page. Photos of the cow mascot are available on Facebook, as well.

In addition to all the activities and agricultural exhibits, Tufano Amusements will once again provide the rides for the fair, and the pigs and dachshunds will race throughout the weekend. Sword swallower Roderick Russell and trapeze-acrobat Jayna Lee will entertain on Saturday and Sunday, and newcomers Beyond Limitz Wrestlers will perform in the evenings. There will also be live music every night, with South Windsor’s own Paul Taylor on Thursday, the rock band Unprepared on Friday, Johnny I Band playing blues on Saturday, and Courtney Drummey’s country music on Sunday afternoon.

Members of several community organizations are volunteering for the fair. In exchange, the Jaycees - with the proceeds of the fair - will give back to these organizations, such as the Friends of Swimming, the Boys Scouts, Orchard Hill PTO, and many others. On Sunday, fair-goers can receive $1 off the entry price by donating a canned good for the South Windsor Food Bank. There will also be many small games to raise funds for charity, with prizes donated by community businesses.

“I’ve gotten involved in the community a whole lot more,” said Kevin Johnson, chairman of the sponsorship committee. A member of the Jaycees since 2009, this is his first full year working on the fair. “This was my way of making myself available to contribute to the community.”

The Wapping Fair runs on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 10 p.m., and on Friday, Sept. 9, from 6 to 11 p.m.  The fair continues on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.  The fair opens for the last day on Sunday, Sept. 11, running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry prices are $6 for adults and children over 57 inches and $3 for seniors over 65. Children under 57 inches enter the fair for free. The four-day pass is $15. Tickets for the rides are 25 tickets for $22 or $1 per ticket, with the rides costing two to four tickets each. For $23, all-you-can-ride wrist bands are available for Thursday night from 6 to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m.


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