Tri-county fair's new leader has fond memories and high hopes

On the job: Amy Anderson, the new manager of the Altamont Fair, has worked with children throughout her career and plans to bring new programs for kids to the fair.

ALTAMONT — The Altamont Fair, estimated to have drawn a crowd of about 100,000 over its six-day run in 2014, has a new manager — Amy Anderson. The village of 1,700 hosts visitors from three counties every August, and has since 1892.

Marie McMillen, who has managed the fair since 2007, resigned effective Jan. 1, 2015. Anderson, an East Berne native, had been McMillen’s assistant for the last four years.

Anderson said that this year she is hoping for even better attendance this year.

“There were two solid days of rain last year, so our numbers were not where we wanted them. But there is not going to be any rain during fair week in 2015,” she said.

Is she sure?

“Absolutely!” she said with a laugh. “Well, I’ve looked at the Farmers’ Almanac and all that kind of stuff, and I am an optimist,” she said. The fair dates for 2015 have been set for Aug. 11 through 16.

Reached at home by telephone, McMillen declined to comment on her reasons for resigning, saying simply, “There were a lot of good things that happened over the years. I was very happy with what we did.”

She has called the fair “a constant in my life,” having exhibited there as a girl in 4-H and later getting more involved when her daughter was in equestrian events in the 1970s.

As manager, McMillen was responsible for booking the entertainers and acts throughout the fair. She brought the circus back to the fair, which proved a popular, sell-out event. In 2014, McMillen launched the successful TasteNY wine tasting event that the fair management plans to expand in 2015.

"My heart is really in the fair," said Marie McMillen, who was named manager in 2007 after serving as the fair board's vice president and volunteering for years. She resigned on Jan. 1. Enterprise file photo — Marcello Iaia


During her tenure, the fair switched to a one-price admission fee of $15 that included all midway rides and almost all fair events. The fair also built a new administration building and additional restrooms. Throughout the years, McMillen has advocated for both the historical and agricultural exhibits at the fair, which serves Albany, Schenectady, and Greene counties.

Anderson, 46, has worked with children throughout her career, including with the town of Berne summer recreation program and teaching art and developing an art program at Camp Pinnacle in New Scotland. She spent three years at Families Together in New York State, working with children with social, emotional and behavioral disorders. And she serves on the Committee for Special Education at Berne-Knox-Westerlo.

Anderson believes that this background will serve her well. She is committed to bringing in new programs for children, including those related to traditional Altamont Fair strengths such as agriculture.

She mentioned one program that the Altamont Fair management first saw at the most recent New York State Fair. The fair has applied for and received a grant to bring the program to Altamont starting in 2015. Called the Ag Awareness Trail, it “will be fun,” she said. It is a “kind of scavenger hunt for kids, to teach them about agriculture.”

Anderson also hopes to begin to broaden the base of children who decide to exhibit at the fair.

She recalled recently, “When I was growing up, I had a goat, but I never thought I could be involved with showing animals because I wasn’t a member of 4-H, and that’s not true. Anybody can show anything here at the fair; you just have to fill out the form and do it. I’m looking forward to broadening that.”

"You started out as this, and look where you are now," Willard Osterhout texted his daughter, Amy Anderson, on her first day as the Altamont Fair's manager. She was 17 in 1985 when she was crowned Miss Altamont Fair. Enterprise file photo


Anderson and her siblings loved going to the fair as kids. She told The Enterprise recently, “We would wait anxiously because you used to get a free ticket in your report card for ‘Kids’ Day at the Fair.’”

Anderson’s family has long been active in the local community. Her father, Willard Osterhout, is a former Berne councilman and has written several books on area history. Her sister, Stacy Loucks, is court clerk for the village of Altamont and the town of Berne. And many family members take part in the Hilltowns Players productions.

Amy Anderson may never have shown animals at the fair, but she did become involved in the fair as a young person. She was crowned Miss Altamont Fair in 1985, under her maiden name of Amy Osterhout.

And on her first day as fair manager in 2015, her father texted her a picture of herself, newly crowned in 1985, and wrote proudly, “You started out as this, and look where you are now.”

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