MONMOUTH — The town’s annual fair wound down Sunday, a day dominated by neophyte and veteran horse pullers.
Ten-year-old Logan Robinson, of Litchfield, negotiated a course of cones with miniature horses, while 45-year-old Gordon Grover’s pulled hundreds of pounds through with his massive Belgians.
But the Otisfield man who has been pulling nearly all his life said those miniature teams are key to getting another generation to sustain the sport, part of Maine’s rural culture.
“If you don’t have that, this is going to be a dying art,” Grover said.
For years, the Monmouth Fair, one of Maine’s 24 agricultural fairs, began on Wednesday and ran through Saturday, but organizers decided to push it back a day this year. It finished its 104th year on Sunday, billed as a “family day” by the fair’s organizers, featuring a puppet and magic show.
The changes were well-received, said fair president Jim Cunliffe and organizer Paul Fox, with Friday night especially busy.
“It’s been good,” Fox said.
The fair is largely devoted to pulling, with steer and oxen on Thursday and Friday and horses over the weekend.
Sunday was slower at the fairgrounds on Academy Road, but it was prime time for Robinson, the only child pulling with a team of miniatures, Tilly and Tommy, 21 and 10 years old, respectively.
Robinson said while the older horse was already trained, the younger horse needed between one and two months of training before he could pull, but “he turned out as the best one.” After Robinson and his twin sister, Lauren, took the horses’ harnesses off, the docile animals let her sit, and even lay, on them as she pleased.
“We do everything with them,” Lauren said.
Grover scooted with 500 pounds of weight with his Belgians, eight-year-olds Diesel and Dobin. Sunday was the horses’ first time in a competition. Belgians are good workhorses, but Grover’s don’t work much at home — he said he bought them “to play with.”
“It’s just like golfing or race cars or boats or fishing: It’s just a hobby,” he said. “You’ve got to love it to be able to do it because there’s no money in it.”
Michael Shepherd — 370-7652