By Anastasia Millicker
COLTS NECK – The Colts Neck Country Fair will bring the Old West to the township Friday and Saturday, June 29-30, offering both new and old attractions including fireworks, a rodeo show and family friendly inflatable rides.
In its 21st year, fair officials are expecting the event to draw at least 20,000 to 30,000 people during the fair’s run from 4 to 11 p.m. on June 29-30, but that number could increase, said Martha Leonhardt, fair co-chair.
“With towns canceling fireworks this year, we have no idea how many people will come,” Leonhardt said.
“But, it will be more than last year.”
Fireworks displays will light up the sky over Bucks Mill Park each night at 10 p.m., said Anita Dedalias, fair co-chair. John Kling Custom Homes and Renovation and Robert DeFalco Realty each sponsored a night of fireworks provided by Garden State Fireworks.
There will be plenty of parking to accommodate fairgoers and the fireworks seekers, Leonhardt said. The Buck Mills Park baseball fields and soccer fields will be used for overflow parking after the designated parking lots are full.
Fair admission is $5 each day and children under 5 years old are free. The fees go toward community groups and fair expenses, Dedalias said.
“At the end of the fair, the money is collected and they pay for our expenditures,” she said. “We try to get groups to donate and sponsor some events and games, just like the fireworks are sponsored… but what is left over after we pay for the expenditures is pooled and donated to community groups.”
Leonhardt said the fair benefits everyone as the community comes together and everyone has fun.
Volunteers from the township also contribute to the fair’s annual success.
The fair is planned by a group of volunteers including Dedalias and her husband Henry, Jill Valentino, Leonhardt and many others.
Because of the significant work of volunteers, the fair committee awards a “Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award” to a township resident who has demonstrated a great commitment to service in the community.
Extending volunteer recognition to students, the fair also offers $1,000 scholarships to two residents – one male and one female – who will be entering senior year of high school, Leonhardt said.
This scholarship is for students who have demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism in the community. The scholarship is intended to assist with college expenses including application fees.
Winning applicants will be presented with awards at the Colts Neck Fair on Sunday.
Dedalias has been involved with the fair for more than 10 years and brought her husband and family along as well. While she loves the fair, the thing she looks forward to the most is the fireworks.
However, fireworks are only one component of the fair, Dedalias said. On Friday night, a local band, Moroccan Sheepherders, will take the stage. On Saturday country music radio station Thunder 106 will join the fair, along with multiple rodeo acts, including Cowboy Larry and Brave Beth featuring lasso tricks, riding demonstrations and a variety of unique animals.
Family attractions will include hole-in-one, sponsored by the Colts Neck Lions Club, and the CentraState Healthcare System Van.
On Saturday, the Women’s Club of Colts Neck will host an American apple pie contest, starting at 3 p.m. Contestants can drop off pies at the judges’ table outside the fair office. After the judging, pie sampling will take place at 4 p.m., Leonhardt said. Anyone can participate but only apple pies will be judged.
Holmdel Kiwanis, Colts Neck Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Colts Neck Lions Club, Animal Rescue Force, the Ashley Lauren Foundation and St. Mary’s Church will offer games of chance, Dedalias said.
Local craft vendors and businesses will have tables set up on the fairgrounds.
There also will be a variety of food vendors. Angelottis Pizza will not only offer pizza but butterfly fries, fried calamari, cold seafood salad and freshly squeezed lemonade. Cross Foods will offer Italian sausages, hot dogs, burgers, fries, lemonade, fruit punch and funnel cakes. Dellano Foods will be serving up calzones, zeppoles and freshly squeezed lemonade.
Jon’s Greek Food will bring authentic Greek cuisine with lamb, chicken and beef gyros and lemonade. Weaser’s Ices will offer Italian ices and hot pretzels. Colts Neck Girls Scouts and Cub Scouts will sell soda and water. Gourmet BBQ will offer fairgoers kabobs of shrimp and scallop, pork, beef and chicken.
Food collection bins will be placed around the fairgrounds for donations to the Monmouth County Community Food Bank.
The Colts Neck Country Fair started more than 30 years ago as a fireman’s fair and lapsed for a time. Now the fair continues to be an annual event drawing in attendees from not only Colts Neck but across Monmouth and Ocean counties.
For additional information about the fair, visit coltsneckfair.com.