CUMBERLAND – A cacophony of clucks and honks filled the poultry barn Saturday morning at the Cumberland Fairgrounds as David Fowler of Freeport carried a flock of Toulouse geese one by one from their trailer into their pens.
The geese, which belong to his son, Noah, 9, settled in quickly despite the ear-splitting din.
“Every few times we get a champion,” said Noah.
Saturday was move-in day for most of the animals being judged at the 142nd Annual Cumberland County Fair. With opening day on Sunday just a few hours away, workers and volunteers rushed to get everything in place for the fair.
Hundreds of cows, goats and pigs were unloaded into the barns, where they will live during fair week. Food kiosk operators polished counters. Judges inspected thousands of hand-made afghans, mittens and sweaters, home-baked cookies, pies and breads and home-grown carrots, tomatoes and beans.
The fair, which runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Sunday through Sept. 28, can draw up to 50,000 visitors if the weather is good. This year’s edition features the usual assortment of attractions, such as the giant pumpkin weigh-off, a Colby College Woodsman’s Team exhibition, harness racing, agricultural displays, livestock pulling contests, a pig scramble, demolition derby, lawn mower races, midway rides and games and musical performances.
New this year are rodeo performances with real live cowboys riding bucking bulls and broncos. On Saturday a team from Rawhide Rodeo Co. out of Leicester, N.Y., set up red metal fencing to contain the horses and bulls. The riders would show up the next day, said Sam Swearingen, owner of the Rawhide Rodeo.
Rodeo riding is experiencing a resurgence, fueled in part by cable television, said Swearingen, who keeps 125 horses and 50 bulls on his 500 acre farm.
Swearingen said his sons compete at the high school level, where the best can win scholarships to colleges with top-performing rodeo teams, such as the University of Tennessee.
Those who compete on the professional circuit can earn cash prizes. Swearingen said the winner of the bull-riding contest Sunday will walk away with $2,000. Bull riders often perform in three or more rodeos a week and can make good money, Swearingen said.
Some of the food kiosks opened early Saturday to feed the workers setting up for the fair.
Grace Baptist Church in Portland was advertising its changing roster of homemade pies.
“It is going to be a good year,” said volunteer Kimberly Dubay of Gray.
During fair week, Carla LaRoche of Windham and her crew turn out more than 80 pies while the 35 or so volunteers at the kiosk try to guess whether the coconut cream or the chocolate cream will wind up the crowd favorite.
At the exhibition hall on Saturday, Kathy Plamann of Windham and Elisha Small of Cumberland judged dozens of items fashioned out of clay and wood.
The winners will be on view during the fair. There was a little wooden truck carrying a load of miniature logs, a fairy house made of moss and bark, and a bed of wooden lady slippers.
Plamann said it isn’t hard to figure out the winners.
“Some things just stand right out,” she said.
At the gardening registration table, Mary King of Portland and her children, Joseph, 4, and Kristin, 2, entered their zucchini in the youth division. The zucchini, the size of an average adult human thigh, had been growing in their garden all summer.
King said the children, who want to convert their squash into zucchini bread when the fair is all done, harvested their entry Saturday morning.
“They are very excited,” she said.
Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: