HEMLOCK – There was big excitement in the air at the Hemlock “Little World’s” Fair, as harness racing was one of the highlights of Tuesday’s opening day.
“We have been racing here for over 120 years and it is a longtime event here in Livingston County,” said Track Superintendent Howard Stillman.
The race at Hemlock Fair – another taking place simultaneously at the Lewis County Fair in Lowville – were the opening dates of the New York County Fair racing season. The fairs host races at the New York Sire Stakes, which culminate Sept. 5 with the New York County Fair Finals.
“It is one of the biggest events in Livingston County. It is very important to us because it puts our presence out in the community and it gives us a strong understanding of what we have here and it also shows our history,” said Fair Trustee Audrey Arber.
In the stands, dozens of people came out to watch the races. Some were amazed at just how fast the horse moves around the track.
“The speed of the horse and just the excitement of who might win, it all comes down to the finish line and the last stretch. They race around twice and may the best man win,” said Stillman.
The races are equally as fun for the jockeys taking part in the races.
“I like the competition and it really fun to get out there with our buddies. It is cool to get people to see what it is all about and to see all of the action,” said jockey Kyle Cummings.
For some just getting to see the horses up close, made it all worth it.
“I am a horse enthusiast. I love everything about horses. but I understand every little about horse racing,” said Bob Kroll of Geneseo.
The races, which are also streamed online, are a way to introduce audiences to harness racing. The races also help the horses gain race experience.
“It is a starting point for these young horses, they are 2 and 3 year olds. This is how they break into the business of racing horses, at Batavia, Vernon Downs or Buffalo Raceway,” said Stillman.
The Hemlock Fair continues through July 24, culminating with the larger of two demolition derbies. Fair officials are expecting record crowds this year.
“We have vendors that have been waiting for two years. We have had young men that are going to be in the demolition derby that have been waiting for two years. Everyone is very excited and we are expecting record crowds this year,” said Arber.
The fair is operating at 100% capacity and with the usual attractions. Since 1857, only war and a pandemic have silenced the fair, which was canceled in 2020.
More than 100 volunteer staff and executives will offer a complete fair, including all agricultural shows, exhibitions, competitions and grandstand attractions.
Featured events include the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol Competition on Wednesday, petting zoo, hundreds of vendors, a midway presented by Gillette Midway Shows, nightly entertainment with regional bands in the festival building, and grandstand events such as truck and tractor pulls and a huge demolition derby on Saturday night. The Sheriff’s Office will also present daily demonstrations.
For a complete schedule of event and feature attractions, visit www.hemlockfair.org.
The fair is offering a pay-one-price admission which includes free parking, midway rides, all attractions, grandstand shows, exhibitions and competitions. There is an extra charge for monster truck rides to be scheduled during fair week.
Harness racing was one of the highlights on opening day at the Hemlock “Little World’s” Fair on Tuesday’s opening day.