Friday, May 24, 2013
It's the time of year when Mainers throw on their work boots and embrace their rural pride.
Bright lights illuminate fairgoers at the Cumberland County Fair.
Press Herald File photos
• UNION FAIR, Aug. 18-25. Tickets: $12 (includes all rides); free for children under age 4. unionfair.org
• PISCATAQUIS VALLEY FAIR, Dover-Foxcroft, Aug. 23-26. Tickets: $6; $2 for ages 5 to 10; free for children under age 5. piscataquisvalleyfair.com
• ACTON FAIR, Aug. 23-26. Tickets: $6 Thursday and Friday; $7 Saturday and Sunday; free for children under age 12; $2 for seniors until 4 p.m. Friday. actonfair.net
• WINDSOR FAIR, Aug. 26-Sept. 3. Tickets: $7 first Sunday through Thursday; $9 Friday, Saturday and second Sunday; free for children under age 16. windsorfair.com
• BLUE HILL FAIR, Aug. 30-Sept. 3. Tickets: $3 Thursday; $5 Friday; $8 all other days; $3 for seniors on Friday; free for children under age 12. bluehillfair.com
• SPRINGFIELD FAIR, Aug. 31-Sept. 3. Tickets: $10; $7 for seniors. thespringfieldfair.com
• HARMONY FAIR, Aug. 31-Sept. 3. Tickets: Free. harmonyfreefair.org
• CLINTON LIONS AGRICULTURAL FAIR, Sept. 6-9. Tickets: $5; $14 per carload; free for children under age 12. clintonlionsfair.com
• LITCHFIELD FAIR, Sept. 7-9. Tickets: $6; $2 for seniors; $2 for children ages 12 to 17; free for children under age 12. litchfieldfair.com
• OXFORD COUNTY FAIR, Oxford, Sept. 12-15. Tickets: $1 Wednesday; $3 for seniors on Thursday; $5 Thursday to Saturday. oxfordcountyfair.com
• NEW PORTLAND LION'S FAIR, North New Portland, Sept. 14-16. Tickets: $4; $12 per family of four. newportlandlionsfair.com
• FARMINGTON FAIR, Sept. 16-22. Tickets: Call 778-6083 for ticket prices. Info: 778-6083
FOR A COMPLETE LIST of upcoming agricultural fairs in Maine, visit mainefairs.org
August and September serve up a busy schedule of horse pulls, pig scrambles, vegetable exhibits, apple pie contests, harness races and 4-H shows at the state's many agricultural fairs. Of course, the fairs also provide plenty of cotton candy, french fries, live music and carnival rides.
In this day and age of cell phone apps and video games, you might think the homespun atmosphere of a country fair would lose its appeal. But not according to fair organizers.
Maine's largest fair takes place in Fryeburg from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7, and regularly attracts between 300,000 and 350,000 visitors.
"Those handheld devices are changing some things here, such as some of the midway games such as throwing the darts and the balls. It takes more to entertain youngsters than it used to," said Roy Andrews, president of the Fryeburg Fair, who been involved with its operation for the past 40 years. "But young families still like to come here, because it's a safe place and an educational place, and they love to see the animals. Of course, teenagers love to ride the rides, and that hasn't changed much."
According to Mel Blaisdell, a vice president of the Skowhegan State Fair, pleasing the under-18 crowd is at the heart of any successful fair.
"That's what a fair is all about -- the kids," Blaisdell said.
Here's a look at some of the season's top agricultural fairs:
This fair is known for touting its less countrified offerings, with prominent promotion of its NWA Wrestling (7 p.m. Thursday), Redneck Truck Pull (6:30 p.m. Friday) and demolition derby (7 p.m. Saturday). You'll find more traditional fair events as well, such as the pig scrambles (6 p.m. Thursday and Friday), chili contest (1 p.m. Friday), baked bean contest (1 p.m. Saturday), whoopie pie judging (1:30 p.m. Saturday) and draft horse and pony show (10 a.m. Sunday).
Other interesting events to check out include the construction rodeo (6 p.m. Thursday), Sunrise Stampede 5K (8 a.m. Saturday), fry-pan toss (noon Sunday), backseat drivers contest (1 p.m. Sunday), HeMan/SheWoman Strength Contest (2 p.m. Sunday) and, new this year, the Redneck Partner Carrying Contest (3:30 p.m. Sunday).
Entertainment includes New Relm Country & Bluegrass (6:30 p.m. Friday), The Cold Blue Steel Country Band (6:30 p.m. Saturday), Birdie Googins: The Mardens Lady Comedy Show (6 p.m. Sunday) and The Kelly Parker Country Band (7:30 p.m. Sunday).
Gates open 8 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. Topsham Fairgrounds, Route 196. Ticket prices: $10 Thursday (includes rides); $12 Friday to Sunday (includes rides); free for children under age 3. topshamfair.net
SKOWHEGAN STATE FAIR
Each year, this state fair attracts between 80,000 and 100,000 visitors and offers up a robust mix of events, entertainment, harness racing, tractor pulls, agricultural exhibits and carnival rides.
"New this year is G-Force Laser Tag," said the fair's vice president, Mel Blaisdell, who is in charge of coordinating entertainment. "It's all free, and the kids in town here are all excited about it."
Back by popular demand is the Beano tent, courtesy of the American Legion. Other events to check out include an antique car show (noon every day), demolition derby (7 p.m. Friday, Monday and Aug. 17), truck pulls (6:30 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 18), a 4-H parade (11:30 a.m. Sunday), Agriculture Olympics (7 p.m. Tuesday), men's hammer toss and women's fry-pan toss (6:30 p.m. Aug. 16), a draft horse and pony show (5 p.m. Aug. 17) and a pig scramble (10 a.m. Aug. 18).
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A youngster enjoys the swings at the Topsham Fair, which opens Thursday.
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A contestant lets it rip in the Frying Pan Toss at the Topsham Fair.
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The Ferris wheel lights the night sky at the Cumberland County Fair.