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Bits & Bytes: Columbia County Fair; ‘Pathways to Prevention;’ ‘The Witch of Lime Street’

In 1924, Mrs. Mina Crandon, the wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon, came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street.

Columbia County Fair

Chatham, New York — The lazy, hazy days of summer come to a close Wednesday, Aug. 31 – Monday, Sept. 5 with the 176th annual Columbia County Fair, which will offer fun-filled excitement for fairgoers of all ages. The historic fair offers families a chance to reconnect with friends and neighbors to enjoy more than 200 exhibits, shows, contests, amusement rides and attractions.

Amusements of America will offer 30 rides. All-day ride passes will be offered each day. Wednesday, Aug. 31 is “Demolition Derby Day” beginning at 6:30 p.m. in front of the grandstand. “Columbia County’s Got Talent,” an open talent show with Electric Blue DJ Service with Bob Hawley will start at noon for juniors, 2:30 p.m. for teens, 5 p.m. for adults and culminate in the finals at 7 p.m. with awards to follow.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Demolition Derby Finale will take place at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, Sept. 2, the 79th annual Schoolgirl Queen pageant will begin at 6:30 p.m. featuring contestants from each of Columbia County’s six public high schools. On Saturday, Sept. 3, the annual Firefighters Parade will step off at 11 a.m. and feature fire departments from around Columbia County marching into the fairgrounds after parading through the village of Chatham in an annual salute to pomp and circumstance. The Monster Tractor Pull will take place at 4 p.m. Entertainment will include “Extreme Illusions & Escapes” at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. and the Brad Matchett Comedy Hypnotist Show at 8:30 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 4, the Columbia Elite AllStars will perform at 11:30 a.m. and the Rowdy Rooster Puppet Show will open at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Multi-platinum country music band Lonestar will take to the grandstand at 7 p.m. for a headline concert. The highlights of Monday, Sept. 5, will include the Open Horse Show at 9 a.m. and a Ghent Band concert at 11:30 a.m.  The “Cupcake Wars” cooking contest, hosted by Nancy Fuller of Food Network’s “Farmhouse Rules,” will begin at 12:30 p.m. The Reverberators will perform from 2 – 6 p.m. and the Painted Pony Championship Rodeo will take place at 5 p.m.

Fair exhibits will include school work, quilting, fruits and vegetables, photography, Grange, flowers, domestic arts and crafts, scarecrows, sunflowers, wool and a wide variety of 4-H displays and presentations. A Heritage Village will feature handcrafts of the past including wood carving, paper marbling, book binding, basket weaving and candle making.

On opening day, the fair gates will swing open at noon and close at 11 p.m. On Sept. 1 – 5, the fair will open at 10 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. Admission includes parking and children ages 12 and under will be admitted free each day, as will active military personnel with ID or in uniform. Adult admission each day except Sunday, Sept. 4, is $10. On Sept. 4, adult admission is $15. On September 1, youths ages 18 and under will be admitted free until 4 p.m. and seniors ages 62 and over will be admitted for half price until 4 p.m. For more information, contact the Columbia County Fair office at (518) 392-2121 or


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‘Pathways to Prevention’ at Olana

Dr. Louis Clinton.
Dr. Louis Clinton.

Hudson, New York — Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) and the Olana Partnership will offer are “Tips for Staying Heart Healthy From CMH Cardiologist Dr. Louis Clinton,” the next installment of their “Pathways to Prevention” series at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Rte. 9G, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 5:30 p.m.

CMH cardiologist Louis Clinton, M.D. will discuss the basics of good cardiovascular health and treatment options for men and women ages 35 and up. Participants will enjoy light refreshments and a 25-minute presentation followed by questions, answers, and conversation along a short hike on Olana’s carriage roads.

Admission is free and all are welcome, though there is limited seating and participants are asked to call (518) 697-5445 or e-mail to RSVP for the event.


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David Jaher to discuss ‘The Witch of Lime Street’

David Jaher.
David Jaher.

Lenox — Author David Jaher will discuss his book “The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction and Houdini in the Spirit World” at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m. followed by a Victorian tea.

In 1924, Mrs. Mina Crandon, the wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon, came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street, but she was known to her followers as Margery. Her most vocal advocate was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who believed so thoroughly in Margery’s powers that he urged her to enter a controversial contest offering a prize to the first medium declared authentic by its investigative committee. Margery’s supernatural gifts beguiled four of the judges until there was only one left to convince: escape artist Harry Houdini.

David Jaher received a BA from Brandeis University and an MFA in film production from New York University, where he was the recipient of the WTC Johnson Fellowship for directing. He has also been a screenwriter and a professional astrologer.

Tickets for the Tea & Talk are $24 in advance and $29 on the day of the event. Reservations are recommended due to limited seating. For information or reservations, contact Ventfort Hall at (413) 637-3206 or



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