Autumn Fever

September 13, 2021

Last weekend the Old Bethpage Village Restoration hosted the 179th Long Island Fair. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, it was wonderful to see the village come back to life for the annual event. The fair is Long Island’s version of a traditional county fair, in which communities gather in the fall to socialize, compete, and celebrate the end of the growing season. The first Long Island Fair was hosted in 1842, and as a scrappy start-up, it bounced from vacant lot to vacant lot until 1865, when it found a semi-permanent home in the Mineola fairgrounds. In the mid-20th century, it was displaced by suburban development, and in 1972 it resettled at the newly-opened Old Bethpage Village Restoration.

When Dan and I set up our first fair booth in 2007, we’d never heard of the fair and had little appreciation for its history, but as new farmers with bills to pay, we did appreciate the opportunity to make a buck. Fast forward several years, and we’ve come to appreciate the

fair for much more than that. The fair is the average Long Islander’s connection to our agricultural past. Whether they expect it or not, fairgoers get a taste of that past when they walk through the gate—yes there are circus acts and pony rides, but there are also historic buildings and farmhouses, craft demonstrations, and a 200-acre park where kids can run free. Street fairs are fine and all, but the Long Island Fair is special.