By Jaime Thomas
Forget video games and sports memorabilia—what Daniel Cook really wanted was a pig.
And two years ago, the Granville eighth-grader got his wish when a family friend gave him one. Since then, his drove has grown to five swine.
Unlike many boys his age, he holds unconventional interests.
“I’ve always been fascinated with pigs and cows and livestock in general,” Cook said Monday night at the Washington County Fair. He was displaying his two newest additions in the FFA tent: 9-week-old sister piglets Tara and Bella, whom he breeded.
This is Cook’s second year showing at the fair, and he said he was happy to be there with his animals.
“I like to see them go for pets rather than slaughter; they will be pets after the fair,” he said. He said his involvement with the FFA, the fair and his pigs has been a learning experience.
“It taught me a lot about hard work and what it takes to raise the animals,” he said, noting that he’ll probably stick with the venture for life.
“I’d like to be an auctioneer or a farm manager,” he said. Cook’s favorite part of the fair is the rodeo, especially the bull riding, which he one day hopes to get into himself.
Cook’s tent, along with the rest of the fair, was packed well into the evening. Betsy Foote, an agriculture teacher in Greenwich, was helping man the FFA tent as well. She thought the turnout was especially good for a Monday night.
“The crowd has been as thick as I can remember. It’s great weather; it’s a great night for people for the fair,” she said. She recently spent an excessively hot, humid week at the Saratoga County Fair and said this week’s weather was highly preferable.
“The animals like it so much better. This is way better than that was,” she said.
The people of Washington County and surrounding communities seemed to agree. Smokey Greene started off the week’s music singing story-filled songs with his youngest son to a healthy-sized crowd. Throughout the audience, fans sported t-shirts with his name.
Nearby, cows of every shape and shade, horses, oxen and pigs got cleaned up for show, as their owners settled into makeshift fair homes for the week.
Monday was the first of two professional rodeo shows, with local and out-of-state cowboys competing in a slew of events to hundreds of onlookers, from bucking broncs to steer wrestling.
The men and women who took part in the rodeo showed obvious frustration or glee at their performances, perhaps in response to the likelihood of their earning back the $100 they paid to compete.
The booming voice of the rodeo announcer could be heard outside of the rodeo as well, as fair-goers got their yearly serving of fair French fries or looked at the sheep and goats.
As the nearly-full moon rose and the sun set, the midway became the glittering hub of the fair. Masses of people chose from every fried delectable imaginable and rode the flashing, spinning rides. Monday was only the start of seven days of food, entertainment, music, agriculture, animals and more.