World of work done for Woodstock Fair

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Tue., Sep. 3, 2013
Workers from Sandtasia turn more than 40 tons of sand into artwork for the Woodstock Fair. Photos by D. Coffey.
Workers from Sandtasia turn more than 40 tons of sand into artwork for the Woodstock Fair. Photos by D. Coffey.

Superintendent Julia Boyce and her daughters, Kendra and Julia Ann, were making sure 419 cages were ready for the poultry, guinea pigs and rabbits that were due to move in to their Woodstock Fair quarters on Aug. 29. Each cage had a scoop of sawdust, filled water bin and exhibitor's tag. By the time the fair opened on Friday morning, the cages would be filled, the entrants judged, and the winners would be moved to Champion Row.

A world of work is done every year before the first paying customer comes through the gates. Barns are readied, rides are staged, vendors set up displays, and an army of volunteers do yeoman's work to make sure things go smoothly for the thousands of visitors and the hundreds of animals that come to the Woodstock Fair.

For floral department superintendents Susan Harris, Joyce Larson and Nancy Sheldon, Thursday was an especially long day. They'd been on the grounds since 9 a.m. and didn't expect to be finished til 10:30 p.m. By that time, they would have signed in and watched over the judging of approximately 600 entries. 

Cattle superintendents Karen Rowley and Lynn Biesiadecki had prepared the barn for 215 beef and dairy cattle. Robert Seltsum's four Guernseys were the first to move in, after he gave them a beauty treatment. “They get pampered,” he said. “It's like a vacation for them."

Steve Topazio and a crew of artists from Sandtasia carved through about 40 tons of sand by Thursday afternoon. Using cake-decorating tools, artist and masonry knives, and metal spatulas with ends ground off, they worked the different angles of a 14-foot-tall sand sculpture. They'd carved the sails of a pirate ship, a bull as captain, a chicken on watch and a pig set to walk the plank. But other details were still in process. They'd be carving through Monday, turning piles of sand into a squid and shark. “We're performing artists,” Topazio said. “People will be able to watch us all weekend long.”

At the other end of the fair, a crew from Sugar Shakers were getting their fried dough stand ready. Cynthia Wright and her crew unloaded boxes of liquid shortening and 50-pound bags of sugar. It was a process they'd been performing since May as they traveled the East Coast for fair season. The one thing different about Connecticut fairs: a penchant for pizza sauce. “Connecticut loves it,” Wright said. But there was sugar, apples, Bavarian cream and a host of other fixings for the traditionalists.

There was no food or drink for sale that afternoon, except for what the Senexet Grange had to offer for vendors, volunteers and carnival workers. Their booth is insurance for those who haven't had time to prepare food and bring it with them, or for those who can't escape the grounds until closing. Burgers, hot dogs, fries and pizza were the staples. A few customers ordered hot dogs, root beers, and fries.   “We'll get busy tonight,” Joan Perry said.

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.