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The Wild West comes to Queens

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Come one and come all! Step right up and celebrate the coming of spring, the long lazy days of summer and the end of the school year at the third annual Belmont Stakes Fair.

Catch the "High Diving Pigs," "the Granpa Cratchet Puppet Show" and more than 100 rides and adventures at the raceway in Elmont, L.I. on the Queens and Nassau border every spring weekend from Friday, April 21 through Sunday, May 7.

"The goal is to make the fair unique like a country state fair - not just a plain fair with a few rides," said William Corbett Jr., spokesman for Fair Productions, which is running the event.

"We want a country fair experience. There will be a Wild West show, pig races and things like that, which makes it different than a small fair," he said.

The idea for the fair was to foster community involvement and get Belmont more immersed in the community, he said. The fair is a prelude to the opening of the racing season and eight weeks before the big event - the Belmont Stakes.

The fair, which is returning to the track for its third year, will feature rides, shows and educational exhibits, Corbett said.

Return to the days of the Old West when gunfighters ruled the streets and prospectors were bitten with gold fever and enjoy the comedy antics of the "Wild West Follies." Pacos Patty - dressed in the garb of the Wild Wild West - will entertain the crowd with her rope- spinning and whip-cracking tricks.

If the Wild West does not get the blood flowing, the "high-diving pigs" will have everyone - not just the faint of heart - on the edge of their seats. And those who are getting antzy waiting for the opening of the thoroughbred season, Randall's Pig Racing should quench their thirst for excitement.

"The fair is like bringing a theme park and state fair to Queens and Long Island," Corbett said.

For the knowledge-hungry, there are educational booths and shows like the "Granpa Cratchet Puppet Show." Check out Granpa as he drives around the fairgrounds in his puppet mobile performing his slapstick show, which encourages audience participation, particularly from children.

There is also the "Ag-Venture Farm Tour," a live interactive farm animal exhibit which will entertain and educate all fairgoers with milking demonstrations, a chick hatchery, antique farm equipment and a wide array of animals to feed and pet.

The know-it-all's can test their farm intellect and agricultural knowledge with questions like - do you know how many eggs a chicken lays in a year?

"I am really excited about this year at the Belmont Stakes Fair," said Brian Schulman, president of Fair Productions. "It is going to be bigger and better than ever and we have a lot of new surprises for everybody."

All special events and attractions are included with the $5 admission price. Fair gates open Thursday and Fridays at 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sundays at noon.

Fairgoers should enter through Gate 5 on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike, just east of the Cross Island Parkway. It can be reached by public transportation and is wheelchair accessible.

For fair information call Fair Productions at (631) 293-4242 or check out the web site at www.belmontstakesfair.com.

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