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Speical Section: Altamont Fair Preview Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 7, 2008

Rural heritage focuses fair
With country roots, the Altamont Fair blossoms in modern times

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Weaving the roots of country life into a weeklong event for increasingly removed patrons — from the cities and the suburbs — has become a primary function of the Altamont Fair.

A stone’s throw from the face painters and fried dough vendors, this year fairgoers can watch the birth of a cow each day.  Dr. Stuart Lyman will deliver a calf every day of the fair, from Aug. 12 to 17.

“It’s something we’ve gotten away from,” he said of people becoming insulated from “the basis of life.”  Just behind his tent in the cattle barn is the milking parlor, where people can see the first step in the dairy process.  “I’ll say to people, ‘That ice-cream cone you’ll have tonight is the product of this,’” said Lyman.

Evening air will carry country soul, with the lowing of a steel guitar and a slow Dixie croon.  Heidi Newfield, a farm girl herself, will grace the grandstand on Wednesday night.  Growing up on a horse farm in California, Newfield’s parents raised her on Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline, according to her website.  Ever supportive of their daughter, they brought her to Nashville at 13 to record a demo. 

Now matured, Newfield says, “I wanted to create a really important body of work, no matter how long it took me.”  With her first hit as a solo artist on the airwaves, she’s climbing the charts and the fair was lucky to get her in this year’s musical line-up, said Manager Marie McMillen, because it booked her early and caught her on her way up.

On the first night of the fair, The Academy of Country Music’s top new vocal group will take the stage.  “Lady Antebellum is not a woman,” McMillen said, “It’s a three-piece band.”

The trio formed two summers ago in Nashville and spent their first months together hammering out a sound. “We held ourselves hostage in a writing room until the early hours of the morning every night,” said Dave Haywood, guitarist for the group, on its website.

Two Radio Disney stars will perform at the end of the week, one each on Thursday and Friday.  Jordan Pruitt will perform first with Joey Page closing the week.

Several local acts will take the Northrup Stage, including the Charlie Smith Blues Band on Tuesday, Hair of the Dog on Wednesday, 2096 on Thursday, The Refrigerators on Friday, and The Audiostars on Saturday.  The Altamont Fair Idol contest will be held at the grandstand on Saturday.

New this year

Also new at the fair this year:

—  The Zoppé Circus, an intimate skill-based show run by an Italian family, will have a pair of Russian bareback riders;

— An otter display will be open in the Conservation Building;

— A food presentation will be held in the Commercial Building every day, in which the Cornell Cooperative Extension will offer tips on different types of cooking.  Some of the titles include, “Healthy Meals in a Flash,” “Mexican Fare,” and “Potatoes — The Healthy Staple”; and

— The Capital District Transportation Authority will be running buses to the fair grounds every half-hour from Crossgates Mall.

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