Putnam County’s summertime staple, the 4-H Fair, has been reimagined with a mix of old favorites and new activities, and will debut in mid-July as the first annual Putnam County Country Fest & 4-H Showcase.
The three-day event, from July 15-17, will feature concerts under the stars on Friday and Saturday nights, traditional 4-H exhibits during the daytime hours, food trucks, craft vendors, a beer garden and fun inflatables and games for children.
“Cornell Cooperative Extension approached us and asked if we would like to collaborate,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “They wanted to reinvigorate the fair, which is a Putnam tradition that’s beloved by all. We were happy to join in and help.”
Stefanie Hubert, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, said the partnership with the county opened up a lot of new possibilities.
“Because of Covid, there hasn’t been a 4-H Fair in Putnam since 2019,” Hubert said. “That break allowed us to step back and revisit the fair, which had been unchanged for years and years. We thought we needed a larger reach, and working with the county allowed us to expand.”
Hubert worked with Chris Ruthven, the county’s director of Parks & Recreation, and Tracey Walsh, the county’s Director of Tourism to come up with a new plan.
In the past, the 4-H Fair had drawn up to 20,000 visitors in three days and the Hubert, Ruthven and Walsh team brainstormed to think of events that would bring even more residents and visitors out to the beautiful County Park on Gipsy Trail Road.
“The new Putnam County Country Fest & 4-H Showcase is an exciting mix of traditional 4-H fun and great new events, like the Eastern Hudson Valley Horse Council Demonstrations and 4-H Miniature Horse Showmanship,” Tourism Director Walsh said. “Friday night kicks off with a Ronstadt Radio concert, Saturday night features High Noon, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, and the fun continues until the last rubber ducky crosses the finish line in the Duck Derby on Sunday afternoon.”
Another reason for the change: declining membership in Putnam’s traditional 4-H Clubs, like the Rabbit Raisers club.
“We are doing our best to transition to activities that fit into children’s busy lives,” Hubert said. “We’re offering programs that only last a few weeks, like our popular Junior Veterinary program and sessions in robotics and engineering.”
There may still be animal club exhibits, as groups from Westchester County, which has no 4-H Fair have been invited to come and showcase their animals in Putnam.
Capping the events will be the first annual Duck Derby, a fundraiser for Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Those who haven’t been to a Duck Derby should prepare for an adorable show as hundreds of bathtub rubber duckies float down a rushing cascade of water and the crowd cheers as ducks cross the finish line.