Rochester Country Fair rallies in the rain

Oct 1, 2022

ROCHESTER – The Rochester Country Fair hit yet another stroke of bad luck on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The beloved annual event has been canceled for the past three years, and was set to make a triumphant return for one day only in 2022. However, the weather drastically affected the turnout. Rain poured down from the skies starting as early as 7 a.m. with no sign of letting up throughout the day.

And yet, despite a soaked fairground with few attendees, vendors and staff pitched tents at the fairgrounds, not ready to give up so easily.

Kelly Sullivan-Morgado, who serves on the board of directors for the fair, was running around in a bright yellow poncho. She said she had no intention of canceling any of the day’s events.

“I love playing in puddles,” she said with a smile.

While she had to cancel the day’s tractor pulls due to lack of participants, anyone driving by the fairgrounds around noon could hear the whir of a saw as participants in the woodsmen’s show chopped wood in the midst of a downpour.

“This is Rochester. We’re farmers. We’re not afraid of a little rain,” said Kim Amato of the Rochester Cultural Council. She and Randall Elgin set up their tent early, hopeful to raise awareness about their open grant applications.

“Not a lot of people know about us, but there’s a lot of great opportunities,” Elgin said. The Council strives to fund projects like school field trips, afterschool programs, concerts, festivals, lectures, theater, dance, music and film. One of their goals that day was to get more local applications for their grants, but were up against a lack of foot traffic.

Two cows from Rochester’s 4H club, Tails and Trails, stood shielded from the rain underneath a tent. Members of the club repeatedly went over to them with hair dryers to keep them warm and fluffy.

“We still plan to be out here all day,” said Melissa Weigel, the club’s leader.

Their two Kunekune pigs were also present. The Kunekune pigs were as friendly as family dogs and eagerly approached the fence to be petted. One of the pigs, Tango, sat on command for treats.

Their club gives kids the opportunity to learn to raise and care for animals, whether they’re interested in pigs, rabbits, sheep, cows, chicken, or horses. It also provides kids chances to learn public speaking at events such as this.

“Even the shyest of kids, I see them get so excited to talk about their animals,” Weigel explained.

While the club’s rabbits stayed at home, baby chicks born just the day before made an appearance, and later, Weigel said that the club had plans to transport sheep and more cows out to the fair.

“We love being here. We just want the chance to share what we do and to help kids get interested in agriculture,” said Weigel.