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Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage mixes old and new

Caroline Terris, of Bellmore, competes in the crosscut

Caroline Terris, of Bellmore, competes in the crosscut sawing contest during the 172nd Long Island Fair at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Old rubbed up against new as crowds flocked Saturday to the 172nd Long Island Fair to catch opening day festivities.

Square dancers' do-si-dos flashed onto cellphone camera screens; people chowed down on turkey legs and corn on the cob after grabbing cash from portable ATMs; and horses pulling hayride wagons clip-clopped on dirt roads as planes buzzed overhead.

Last year, the six-day fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration drew 22,000, fair manager Gary Haglich said. "It's all weather-related," he said.

Gazing at the cloudless blue sky, he said this weekend's turnout should be good. "We have beautiful weather."

Some popular attractions have returned this year, including rides in hot air balloons and an elephant performing tricks.

At an old favorite, the crosscut-sawing contest, Louis Vassallo, 18, and Frank Manzo, 19, both of Bellmore, rhythmically cut a slice off their 5-inch log in 60.81 seconds, beating another duo. "You have to find the groove to it," Vassallo said.

Elsewhere, men and women dressed as Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders slashed their way on horseback through a course of balloons and cabbages. Cabbages?

"That be an enemy's head," said one of the saber-wielding soldiers, re-enactor Steve Glassmann, 49, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Inside the exhibition hall, wreaths, quilts, photographs and other craftwork competed for ribbons. Amanda Ciniglio, an executive chef in Kew Gardens, Queens, judged cakes baked by children 13 and under. She viewed a rainbow-colored cake skeptically -- an edge showed through the frosting.

"We eat with our eyes," Ciniglio said. "It's got to look good before it can taste good."

But after sampling a chocolate cake with too much cocoa and a too-dry white cake, the marbled rainbow hues won her over, taking first place honors.

"A lot of work went into that, and the taste was excellent," the judge said.

The fair continues Sunday and runs Thursday through next Sunday. Sponsors include the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the Nassau County Parks, Recreation and Museums Department.

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