Artisans Village, climbing goats add to attractions at Harford Farm Fair

After a hot opening day that featured a torrential downpour, Harford's Farm Fair dries off

Exhibitors, vendors, staff and visitors were ready for a sunnier and milder day for the second day of the Harford County Farm Fair on Friday, as the fairgrounds dried out from a line of storms that dropped a deluge on the Bel Air area the previous afternoon.

"The sun came out, it cooled down – not near as oppressive as yesterday," Rick Signor, a driver for the Hot Dog Pig Racing company, said.

He was setting up the colorful, flag-covered track for the racing pigs and climbing goats, a new attraction this year, at the bottom of the small hill at the back of the fairgrounds.

"It was tough on the vendors," Signor said about Thursday's humidity, heat index in the upper 90s and sudden downpour.

He noted, however, that the fairgrounds seemed to be well-equipped to recover.

"This was underwater, and half an hour later, it was gone," he said of the flood, pointing to the grassy area where his company's trailer sits. "The facility dries up nicely."

The racing pigs show, run by Dave Feimster from Jackson, N.J., is a family favorite at the fair every year, with several shows scheduled every day.

"The kids love it and it's exciting to see," Signor said.

The Farm Fair continues Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Harford County Equestrian Center in Bel Air. For events schedules and parking information, visit FarmFair.org.

Signor's company introduced the climbing goats, using five Pygmy goats, for the first time this year.

"It's tricky with goats, because their fences run very high and they tend to be distracted by green grass," Signor said with a grin.

The goats were added to the act "just to break it up and add some new color and flavor to the fair," he said.

Although it was Signor's first time at the Harford fair, "my boss loves this show," he said. "The kids are very enthusiastic and the parents get there, too."

Signor runs the P.A. system and drives the trailer, while Feimster serves as the emcee.

"We have had nothing but good reaction," he said, explaining the company occasionally introduces new elements but it is important to have the same basic structure.

"The animals like routine," he said.

Another new offering this year is an Artisans Village, set up under a tent near the food vendors. The tent features a handful of local artists and some ag vendors, like the Susquehanna Beekeepers.

The artists can demonstrate how to make a craft in a small display area, in exchange for having their vendor fee waived, fair co-chairman Aimee O'Neill said earlier.

On Friday, O'Neill made an announcement from the information booth that any muddy or hazardous areas around the fairgrounds should be totally dry by Saturday. One of the exits for the vendors was blocked off because of the mud.

Sarah Northwood, owner of Bel Air's Small Town Images digital art business, said the patchy weather Thursday made opening day a little tricky.

"The art was all getting wet and we got hustled into the building here...it was crazy loud," she said about the pavilion behind her. "But that's what artists kind of do; we kind of set up where we are."

She nevertheless said the Artisans Village was a good idea, although it was hard to say yet how successful it might be.

"It's always like that, when you start up something," she said.

Aberdeen's Melissa Stutzman, of the crafts business Turtle And Chicken, offered to demonstrate how she weaves some of her fabric baskets.

"I am very excited about it," she said about the fair. "This is our first year doing it; there's just so many people."

She seemed fine with being in the tent.

"This time of year, we want to be outside because that's where people are," she said.

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