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File photo: Peter Blasl

Columbus Day weekend is here, and that means it’s time for the Riverhead Country Fair.

The fair is a 43-year annual ritual for local farmers, craftsmen, bakers and vegetable decorators who hope to snag a prize in one of the fair’s many contest categories.

Hundreds of vendors and food trucks from all across Long Island will sell their wares on Main Street and in the Peconic Riverfront parking lot Sunday, where there is also a carnival with rides and midway games.

New this year is a children’s area in Grangebel Park, west of Peconic Avenue. Bubble machines will greet visitors as they cross the pedestrian bridge to enter the park. Baldy the Magician will entertain kids of all ages with an hour-long magic show beginning at 11 a.m. Kids will also enjoy “balloon magic,” craft tables and a petting zoo in the park Sunday afternoon. The activities in the park are all free, said Tom Farruggia of Townscape, which organizes the fair each year.

Another new attraction will be the chance to toss cream pies into the faces of local luminaries, like Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten. All proceeds from the pie toss and raffle sales go to the Townscape scholarship for a graduating Riverhead High School senior. 

2013 1013 country fair pumpkin 2011The event draws thousands of people to downtown Riverhead each October. It is one of the largest festivals in all of New York State, with roots that go all the way to the 1840s. The Suffolk County Fair was held in Riverhead every year until the Great Depression, after which it was held “only erratically.” A group of residents decided in 1976 to resurrect the event, according to the late longtime coordinator of the fair, Jim Lull.

The county fair was hosted by the Riverhead Agricultural Society on property that came to be known as the fair grounds, just north of Pulaski Street. A good portion of it is now owned by the Riverhead Central School District, which acquired title during the Depression and built the Pulaski Street School, then a new high school, as a project of the WPA, Lull told RiverheadLOCAL in a 2010 interview.

Since 1976, the fair has been held downtown, along the Riverfront and on Main Street.

The fair will open at 10 a.m. Sunday morning and run until 5 p.m. Opening ceremonies on the Riverhead Town showmobile are scheduled to take place at noon.

The weather forecast this weekend is perfect for a fair day: mostly sunny, with highs in the mid-70s.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.