One might call Elkanah Watson what is known today as a consultant. Back in the 1800s, Watson was largely credited with the organization of the Otsego County Fair, which dates back to 1817. Quickly approaching its 200th anniversary, this year’s fair will begin Tuesday in Morris.
Calling itself the “Best Six Days of Summer,” the fair will open with “Dollar Day Admission.” Fair goers that day will get to experience a new kind of horse racing, not seen in this area before. The races begin at noon, and will feature Racing Under Saddle, described by the United States Trotting Association as a “hybrid” type of horse racing, combining elements of Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing. It is racing with riders and a saddle, not drivers and a sulky. Standardbreds have been racing under saddle since the early 1800s, and “Monte” racing, as it is called in Europe, is common.
Ashley Eldred of Burlington Flats plans to participate in the first Otsego County exhibition race. The 19-year-old has been racing under saddle for a more than a year and has participated at various race tracks and fairs getting experience.
“My goal is to win a race next year,” Eldred told The Cooperstown Crier in October 2012.
She has since reached that goal. She won a race at the Afton fair and placed second at a race in Saratoga. Eldred said she believes under saddle racing is good for harness racing because it is something different that is bringing people to the tracks.
Judy Harris, Otsego County Fair manager, said the most popular attractions would be back from previous years. The fire service parade and fireworks will be Tuesday following the races. Each day the fair will feature animal shows. At noon, the Gillette Shows Midway Carnival opens. On Friday, Aug. 2, 100 donated new bicycles will be given away during Children’s Day. Youngsters will sign up beginning at 1 p.m. and the drawing will begin at 3 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 3 the “My Favorite Culinary Delight Cook Off” will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Floral Hall. Also that day at 3 p.m. the 4-H Livestock Auction will take place.