There was a great deal of activity Monday at the Warren County Fair.
"It's a coming-together day," Fair Board President Dave Wilcox said.
From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., exhibitors could bring in animals, plants, foods, anything to be judged through the week, and get their spaces set up.
Amanda Sirianni, 2, smiles as she looks at a rabbit Monday at the Warren County Fair.
Many food vendors were open and offering their wares to the thousands of people who came for an early look. Because the carnival was not operating and many of the exhibits were not prepared, there was no admission on Monday.
"It's a free day," Wilcox said. "I would guess there'd be in the neighborhood of 4,000 people" in attendance on Monday.
Volunteers and exhibitors were bringing in exhibits and animals, setting up chairs, and putting the finishing touches on at the pavilion. "The carnival's setting up," he said.
"Monday at the fair, people start bringing in their animals," Ashley Blair said. Most dairy farmers do not want to miss an extra day of milking, so she was unusual in that she brought two cows on Sunday. "It can be quite a bit of work, depending on how many animals you have."
Exhibitors bring in their animals and prepare the location, including decorating, if they like.
"Monday's a little more work," but there's plenty to do every day, said Blair. In addition to basic care for the animals, Blair has shows Tuesday - the fitting show; Wednesday - the 4-H Show; and Thursday - the Open Show.
Jocelyn Estabrook, 9, brings food and water to her dairy cows - Dewdrop and Doodly, "every day, twice a day," she said. "I grain them. I water them. Both of them drink... lots."
She was looking forward to her second year presenting at the fair. "I can show them and have fun with them," Estabrook said.
Alex Barnett, 11, a four-year veteran of the fair whose 2010 entry was named grand champion, was clipping wool from around his Shropshire sheep, Chimney. "I use electric shears," Barnett said. "If I miss a spot, I'll trim that."
He washed Chimney on Monday morning and said he planned to wrap her in a blanket to keep her clean.
"Our show's on Tuesday," Cody McMillen said while he was washing his sheep. "We're getting them ready for tomorrow."
Currie Hultman was riding her horse, Kumeer, at the Leisure Ring, practicing for the game show ("you do barrels, pole bending...") on Wednesday. She also will be showing lambs on Tuesday.
"It's fun and good experience," Hultman said from atop Kumeer. "You learn a lot."
Parker Curtis washed his five-month-old Jersey calf, Artemis, on Monday. In fact, while they're at the fair, Curtis will be washing Artemis "every morning."
"It's a big day for us," Dave Close said. He was checking in fruit, vegetable and grain exhibits. "Monday in, Sunday out. The in-between days are for showing off."
He's done much the same volunteer job for 17 years. "It's a fun thing," Close said. "You have to do it for that reason."
Bill Lachner was in charge of setting up the First Niagara Pavilion for the Fair Queen program. He went from one assistant, his daughter, to a group of perhaps 12 young people helping him with the 1,300 chairs. The extra hands finished off the job in about 45 minutes. Lachner said Boy Scouts will rearrange and add chairs for Tuesday's entertainment.
Sometimes, Monday can be problematic. Not this year. "Today's been really smooth," Wilcox said. "Most of the exhibitors are long-time exhibitors. They have a good idea of what's going on."
He said the fair is the "biggest single money-maker in Warren County."
"We turn more money back into the private sector than any other event," he said. "Last year we had 56,000 paid attendance."
Depending on the weather, Wilcox thinks this year's fair could exceed that attendance. "Perfect weather here is between 75 and 80 and partly cloudy," he said. "Fair attendance falls with rising temperature. Rain keeps people away."
"If it would be like this all week, our attendance will probably hit 60,000," he said.