Queens County Fair

The Queens County fair took place on Sept. 15 and 16 giving urbanites a rural retreat. It was held at the Queens County Farm Museum. (Photo by Ali Watts/The Observer)

Published: September 27, 2007

On Sept. 15 and 16, the Queens County Farm Museum hosted its 25th annual Queens County Fair, once again providing a rural retreat for urbanites. The historical farm opened its doors to over 10,000 visitors and showcased prize winning horticulture, agriculture and crafts from surrounding farms as well as local New Yorkers.

The Queens County Farm, the oldest continually working farm in New York State is situated on 47 acres of uninterrupted green space. The farm was overrun with a variety of crafts, rides, food and entertainment alongside an original colonial farmhouse and corn fields growing feed for Betsey, the resident bovine. Chickens roamed freely in the dirt roads while the goats, sheep, pigs, ducks and rabbits were separately corralled, eagerly awaiting affection and feed.

The Amazing Maize Maze is one of the fair’s main attractions. The maze, open until Oct. 28, is a three-acre interactive corn maze grown in different shapes each year. This year it was the castle from “The Wizard of Oz.” The goal was to collect a piece of the map from each of the nine stations within the maze. This took about an hour of wandering through the three-mile path with nothing overhead but corn stalks and sky, which was as refreshing as it was disorienting.

After winding through the corn field you could take a snack break in the Bavarian Garden and watch the Irish dancers before heading to the blue ribbon tent displaying prize winning birds, flowers and produce. Among some of the agricultural entries, there was an array of large squashes and grounds including a 200-pound pumpkin and several squash that stretched over a yard.

In the same tent, you could also buy a chocolate cupcake to help out the Future Farmers of America, hold a snake, pet a ferret, and learn about the long-standing tradition of hand-carved love spoons.

After exploring the tents it was off to the farmhouse to get a taste of colonial life with a cooking demonstration from one of the museum volunteers, Evelyn Birkhold. Birkhold was clad in colonial fashions as she worked over an open fire preparing pumpkin soup. The audience sat on wooden benches learning the long-standing history of the farmhouse as the smells of pumpkin and fire filled the air. At the end of the demonstration everyone enjoyed the soup along with bread smeared with freshly churned butter.

The barn further down the road held the blue ribbon competition for arts and crafts. It was an amalgam of charcoal sketches and puff paint holiday apparel along with knit dresses and quilted blankets.

Several artisans were stationed in the barn spinning wool and making lace. Visitors stopped to chat with Lynn McMahon as she sat working on a piece of bobbin lace, explaining the process and varieties of lace making.

Outside on the mainstage, Something Special Big Band provided music for the event. The band played a variety of jazz and Sinatra, as well as the the theme song from “Rocky.”  The audience sat on bails of hay under the shade of pear trees eating funnel cake, fried Oreos, gyros, roasted corn and burgers. Between sets, State Senator Frank Padavan presented the blue ribbon awards. Padavan received an award from the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, the group that operates the museum, for his continuing efforts and dedication to the preservation of the farmhouse and the farm museum.

After stocking up on cider and apples, the attendees headed down the dirt road and out the gate and suddenly, we were back on the concrete sidewalks of Queens.

If you missed the fair and want an excuse to get out of the city for the day, the farm provides year round activities.  This fall’s festivities include pumpkin picking Saturdays and Sundays in October in addition to the Apple Festival, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Oct. 7. For more ideas check out www.queensfarm.org.