So you’ve visited country fairs, large and small – some slick, some tawdry, some New Agey, some reasonably “authentic.” But have you been to one so downhome that it actually features Bessie Bingo? Thought not. Head over to the wilds of Sullivan County this weekend for a taste of the Real Thing: the Neversink Agricultural Society’s 137th Grahamsville Fair, long ago dubbed the Little World’s Fair.
The excitement begins to build on Wednesday, August 17, when the 4-H kids bring their pampered animal charges in to set up for the Sullivan County Youth Fair. The livestock competitions get underway on Thursday, and that evening from 5 to 9 p.m., the Little World’s Fair itself starts off with a rides-only $40 Carload Night.
The entertainment gets going in earnest on Friday, with line dancing and an old-fashioned tractor pull. Among the 4-Hers’ presentations will be an alpaca agility show at 5 p.m. On Saturday there’ll be a draft horse pull, watermelon-eating contest, tug-of-war and fireworks in the evening – oh yes, and Bessie Bingo at 4 p.m. Also known as a Cow Pie Derby, Cow Plop Drop or Cow Chip Bingo, this is a competition in which spectators place wagers on particular squares in a large grid, over which the Cow of the Hour is permitted to wander until the digestive spirit moves her.
Sunday’s highlights include a classic car show and a 4-H pie auction. Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s entertainment roster will also feature live bands, magic, science and wildlife shows. All told, it’s the closest thing we have in these parts to what country fairs used to be like in the olden days.
Neversink Park is located on Route 55 in Grahamsville (about 15 miles west of where it diverges from Route 209 in Napanoch) in the heart of the southern Catskills. Daily entry fees are $6 for ages 12 through 74, $2 for ages 5 through 11 (rides cost extra). Visit https://grahamsvillefair.com for the full schedule.