Thousands attend fair at Queens’ only farm

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Photo gallery

Juliet Mitchell (top) and Alexa DiNapoli fly through the air on a ride at the Queens Country Farm Museum's 30th annual county fair. Photo by Christina Santucci
Former U.S. Marine Jerry Vilbig (front) gives hugs to Carrie Sampogna and her son Kaden, 3, as fellow Marine William Novak looks on. Photo by Christina Santucci
Kiara Verdejo learns to spin a plate. Photo by Christina Santucci
Irish step dancers take the stage in a Bavarian garden space. Photo by Christina Santucci
Goats are treated to alfalfa sprouts by visitors. Photo by Christina Santucci
Men demonstrate medieval combat. Photo by Christina Santucci
Emmanuel Polanco (top l.) and Ariel Polonia grip the restraining bars, as Erin Millerick and Tamer Eltabib hold on tight. Photo by Christina Santucci
Irish step dancers take the stage in a Bavarian garden space. Photo by Christina Santucci
Former Marines Paul Sacks (l.) and WIlliam Novak (r.) stand with former 101st Airborne member Tom Swift of Floral Park. Photo by Christina Santucci

Hayrides, petting zoos, pie-eating contests, blue-ribbon veggies and more found a common home over the weekend as the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park opened its gates for the 30th annual county fair.

Thousands of borough residents filtered through the scenic celebration of agriculture Saturday and Sunday for their piece of the festivities, ranging from an Amazing Maize Maze, countless food vendors, live music and carnival rides.

Just inside the fair, an agriculture tent kept one of the event’s best secrets: a diverse display of award-winning vegetables, condiments and other showcases of the culinary arts.

Valerie Lang, of Bellerose, started taking pictures of the award-winning entries to the fair and laughed with excitement when she saw her name on her first-prize Caribbean jerk sauce.

“It takes a whole day to make it,” said Lang, who enters the contest every year with different items like butter cookies or tomatoes. “I just entered in the spirit of the fair. I didn’t expect to get first place.”

Deeper steps into the tent also unveiled displays of various farm animals, including turtles, snakes, bees and award-winning roosters, which livened up the day with their squawks.

Douglaston’s Ruth Harrigan, who has become known in northeast Queens for her work in beekeeping, visited the fair Sunday to share another one of her passions: raising chickens. Harrigan, whose family currently has two chickens, said she found a lot of joy in teaching fair-goers how it could be done in New York City.

“A lot of people don’t know that it is legal to raise female chickens in the city,” said Harrigan, who distributed a brochure she made educating her neighbors on how to raise a chicken. “Everyone loves it. The kids have a ball and when people see the mother hen with her chicks, they get so intrigued and happy.”

Harrigan also joined in on the festivities by sharing her artwork — a mosaic she had been working on for more than a year showcasing her love for both chickens and bees. Her work won best in show at the county fair, and Harrigan was treated to an award ceremony recognizing her talent.

“It made my day,” she said.

The sun shined throughout the weekend, making for perfect weather as families lined up to pet animals, ride ponies and mark the agricultural history of the borough. Rows of hay lined up in front of a modest stage, where easy listening acts shared their music with the crowds as they cruised between the carnival rides and different farm attractions. When they were not too busy getting lost in the gigantic corn maze, the youngest at the fair stopped to get their faces painted, suiting up for the afternoon of festivities.

“I think everyone had a lot of fun,” Harrigan said. “You don’t have an experience like that all too often in Queens.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 10:52 am, September 27, 2012
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