When you win at the 147th Annual Cummington Fair, sometimes you have to break into cartwheels to celebrate. That’s what Justin Clark did after he helped his father Tim Clark win the Free for All in the Draft Oxen division. The team of Butch and Sonny were hitched to the 12,500 pound plus stoneboat so they could pull it past the required six feet distance. As his father led the team out of the ring, his son broke into a series of spontaneous cartwheels, delighting the crowd. “That’s the first time he’s done cartwheels in the ring,” noted his father. Both he and Justin are native sons of Hawley, MA, “We’re excited, it’s a pretty big ordeal,” said Clark.
Allen Rainville of Norwich, CT came in second, He also had another team place. Rich Bushway of White River Junction, VT came in third with his team Tony and Marco pulling 71½ inches.
Clark won the Westfield Fair the week before with his team — Butch, a white Chianina and Sonny, a Brown Swiss pulling 15,500 pounds. He fortifies the team for the pulling events with vitamins, Calf Manna made by Carnation and oats, for protein.
He has owned 12 or 15 teams and has been working with oxen for a while, “All my life, 40 years or so, my whole family had them, my father had them; it’s kinda in the blood.” His father was the late Darwin Clark Sr., a well-known figure on the fair circuit.
Along with unexpected cartwheels, the Annual Cummington Fair was all that organizers could hope for and more. More than 20,000 people had attended by Saturday evening, with parking lots full and more cars coming in and one more day to go. New this year was Tractor Olympics, said Fair Secretary Karen Rida, “We have a new track, that’s bigger and better. It’s great weather; it was rainy last year.”
At 2 p.m. on Sunday there was a Golden Wedding Contest and an Antique Car Parade, followed by an Antique Tractor parade. In the Poultry and Rabbit Barn, 4-H member Linsey Bak’s rabbit, Emmett, had won Best Broken Mini-lop, sporting an opal sheen. One of five barn officials, Daphne Phelps of Haydenville, MA, got a chance to indulge in her own rabbit love by holding Emmett, and overseeing the other 40+ rabbit entries.
On the other side of the barn, Chris King of Lenox, MA admired a light Brahma Rooster. “It’s beautiful, a big, massive chicken, I love their neck feathers.” He has 13 chickens of his own, including a Brahma rooster, Rhode Island Reds and Speckled Sussex.
The fair gives people who don’t own chickens or livestock a chance to see them up close. Over in The Hatchery Golden Comet chicks, coordinated to hatch in time for the fair. Children and adults alike adore holding the chicks. When does Joie Bourassa of Pittsfield, MA, an adult, get a chance to hold a chick? “Once a year, when we come to the fair,” she answered, holding a chick up close.
Fair contestants traditionally help each other out, especially during the horse pulls, helping guide the draft horses up and attaching the hook to the heavily laden stoneboat. William Malloy Jr., whose family is from Cheshire, MA entered two teams in the 12 foot distance Draft Horse Pull. He was back and forth helping people, but no more than anyone else, said Brian Kleeburg third place winner of the 12 foot horse pull with his team Barney and Smuck.
“I’ve been pulling for two years. I won in Littleville, Heath and Cummington 20 foot pull,” said Kleeburg, a resident of Greenfield, MA.
Wayne Hubbard of Plainfield, MA entered his team, Mouse and Bob, with his son Wayne Hubbard Jr. driving. Johnson and Johnson of Putney Vermont entered two teams, Toby and Dick and Tex and Colby. Mary Beth O’Shea and Kip Porter of Worthington, MA entered their team Henry and Bob. No other cartwheels were seen, at least, not at the fair.