Orange Country Fair has 'something for everyone'

ORANGE — The International 600 Highboy corn sprayer pulled onto the town’s fairgrounds this week, amidst the bustle of carnival rides being set up, a reptile tent being outfitted and preparation for dozens of other events at the Orange Country Fair, coming Friday through Sunday.

The highboy, a gift on permanent loan from North Branford’s Cecarelli Farms to the Farmer’s Museum through First Selectman Jim Zeoli, will make its display debut at the fair.

“We are very excited,” Zeoli said of the old farm piece used for spraying a corn crop with insecticide. “It’s a great addition, because there aren’t many around.”

The highboy is named as such because the farmer sat in a seat high above, spraying for ear worms and other pests that like corn. It’s been described as looking “dangerous” — like a furnace on wheels.

The highboy has been replaced by safer technology with enclosed cabs to protect the farmer from the toxins and by boom sprayers.

The piece made in the mid-1960s to ’70s was donated by Cecarelli Farms owner Willie Dellacamera who said the highboy probably will spark many a childhood memory for fairgoers.

Zeoli is a longtime friend of Dellacamera, as well as the late Nelson Cecarelli who died less than a year ago and owned the family farm for years. Cecarelli’s widow and Dellacamera, who worked at the farm since age 16, inherited it.

Dellacamera said Cecarelli, who kept the highboy as an item of interest long after its useful days, would be happy to see the item go to Zeoli and the museum.

“They’re all good people and they’ll take care of it,” Dellacamera said.

If obsolete corn sprayers don’t float your boat, there’s likely something at the Orange Country Fair that will.

Zeoli said the annual fair draws people from far and wide, and described it as “a safe, clean, family-fun event that has something for everyone.”

Sure there are sheep, goats, horses, cows, pigeons, rabbits and other farm animals, but there also are tents filled with prize-winning vegetables, an exhibit hall where residents of all ages win ribbons for creative photographs and projects on display. There are demonstrations related to agriculture, tractor pulls, pig races, birds of prey demonstration, a homing pigeon release, doodlebug contest, two-handed saw- and skillet-throwing contests. There will even be advice on how to care for orchids.

This year a new attraction will be the “Horsing Around” trick horse and pony show to go on three times each day, Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a nice reflection of our (town) history,” said carnival co-chairman Karen McCausland.

She said it’s a time to keep commercialism down and leave technology at home. McCausland said she thinks the fair is so popular because it’s “family friendly” and because people enjoy seeing animals, but don’t otherwise get much opportunity,

Zeoli said the fair means “community” and commended the townspeople for making it all possible through volunteerism. Zeoli is among the many who have spent hours at the fairgrounds this week setting up for the town’s biggest event.

The hours include a “soft opening” Friday beginning at 6 p.m. with a truck pull until finish; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a pancake breakfast Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Admission is free on Friday only. Admission on other days is $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and free for children 15 and younger.

Parking is free and there are no pets or alcohol allowed on the grounds. For more information and a schedule of events, visit:

The fair as it is now began more than 40 years ago when local farmer Walter Bespuda was asked to organize a one-time event for the town’s bicentennial celebration.

The fair at Mary L. Tracy School — which Bespuda executed with the boys in his 4-H Club — made a sizable amount of money and was such a hit with townspeople that they were asked to do it the next year. The fair got bigger and more successful every year. He has stayed involved ever since. The proceeds are used to maintain the buildings and structures on the fairgrounds.