The Daily Star


William Pickens knows a little bit about the Otsego County Fair.

The 84-year-old grew up next to the fairgrounds and still lives within sight of his boyhood home.

"I think it was a good fair," Pickens said Sunday, as he and his wife, Arline, sat in lawn chairs in the front yard of their Mechanic Street home.

They said they attend every year. The couple holds season passes, and this year they went every day except two.

"We graduated from here and lived here all our lives," Arline Pickens, 82, said.

The Otsego County Fair in recent years has typically attracted about 35,000 people for the full, six-day run.

This year attendance was on par with that, with 34,372 people, with Sunday seeing a particularly strong turnout with 6,312 visitors, according to fair manager Judy Harris.

"It seems to be consistent. It was a good week," Harris said. "Overall, we're pretty happy."

The fair means more traffic and more noise for the village of Morris, which is home to about 600 people, according to census data.

But William and Arline Pickens said they don't mind the traffic and noise. They look forward to it.

"We love it," he said.

Nancy Meyers said she also loves fair week.

Owner of Get the Scoop, an ice cream shop, Meyers said business has been up this summer as a whole, but especially during fair week.

"It seems like it's been busier. I think the weather has an awful lot to do with it," Meyers said.

Rain largely stayed away from the village of Morris during fair week, with a downpour Thursday the exception to sunny weather. Pleasant weather prevailed for the weekend.

The ice cream shop around the corner from the fairgrounds usually sees two waves of customers, one in mid-afternoon and another in the evening, she said.

"They are from all over," Meyers said.

Over at Nina's Pizzeria & Restaurant at the intersection of county Route 51 and state Route 23, in the heart of the village, Gina Valentino was waiting for her next customers.

"It's much busier during fair week," she said.

Many of the customers during fair week are not Morris area residents, Valentino said. "We get a lot of Norwich people. There's a lot of campers too."

The diners at the pizzeria often stop in on their way out of town and are looking for a less expensive alternative to fair food, she said.

Not all businesses in Morris reported a rush.

There is no great impact from fair week at The Brookside Tavern, a fixture in Morris for decades, bartender Bryan Jacoby said.

"Honestly, I don't see much of a difference," he said.

Arline Pickens said the fair seemed to be a bigger deal for the village decades ago.

"It was the thing," she said.

Her husband also said the fair was something to be anticipated all year.

"You look forward to it. I still do," William said. "We still love it."

Arline said she was concerned she doesn't see many local residents attend the fair. "If people don't support it, it's not going to be here.

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