It’s known around New England as a summer destination spot, but for many residents and visitors, fall is the favorite season in the Lakes Region.

What is there to do in the Lakes Region in September? Since September brings warm Indian Summer days, summer activities such as fishing are popular. September is also Fair Season. There are many fairs to choose from in September, and each fair has its own personality and special attractions. The month kicks off with the Oxford County Fair in Oxford, Sept. 14 through 17.

Oxford County Fair

The Oxford County Fair, Sept. 14-17, is a quick 35 to 40 minute drive from Windham up Route 26 North. If you’re driving from the Casco area, the quicker way would be up Route 11. for the second year in a row, the fair features harness racing on a new track.

It has been nearly 40 years – since the early 1960s – that the Oxford County Fair has had harness racing. Betting on the horses will also be allowed.

There will be eight to 10 races each day. The racing will culminate with a memorial race in honor of Charles Day (owner of the Lewiston Raceway in Lewiston). Jackson said the memorial race, in particular, is expected to draw some exceptional horses.

The fair is offering bull-riding this year for the first time. It’s the only fair in New England to offer this attraction.

The Oxford County Fair has the other usual fair attractions – carnival rides, an exhibition hall with animals, a woodsman day, he-man contest, antique tractor pull and a demolition derby.

In the evenings, entertainers will include, Tim Sample, Motor Booty Affair, Blue Hill Brass, Balloon Zoo, Sweet Adelines and Melissa Lynn. For more information about the fair, see www.oxfordcountyfair.com. For information about weeklong passes ($10) contact Jeanne Whittemore at 743-6737 or visit 90 Maine Street in Norway.

Common Ground Country Fair

Occupying a special niche in the fall fairs line-up is the Common Ground Country Fair, which takes place Sept. 23-25 in Unity. The fair is sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and is MOFGA’s main annual educational and fund-raising event.

Like other fairs, it features music, crafts, animal exhibitions and a variety of contests and music. The difference is that almost all of the food at the fair is organic and locally grown. Many exhibits feature farmers and vendors, who help people learn about organic farming and gardening and environmentally-friendly living.

There are demonstrations and exhibits about low-impact forestry, farmers markets, stoneworkers, fiber spinners, sheep dog demonstrations, craftspeople of all varieties and much more.

One area features local social and political action groups and information about civil/human rights, peace and justice and environmental politics.

All of the garbage generated at the fair is taken care of by “Zero Garbage Project” volunteers who separate items for recycling, so that as little material as possible goes to the landfill.

Ticket lines for the fair can be long, so organizers advise those who can to get tickets ahead of time. They’re available at Morning Dew Natural Foods in Bridgton and several locations in Portland, including Books Etc, Creative Resource Center and The Whole Grocer.

Interested in arriving at the fair in an environmentally friendly way? Call the Bicycle Coalition of Maine at 623-4511 or see www.bikemaine.org/Valet.htm for a free “Pedal to the Fair Map.”

For more information about the fair, call 568-4142 or see www.mofga.org.

Cumberland County Fair

Want to see really huge pumpkins, check out some farm animals and have some cotton candy? You can find all of these traditional fair favorites at the 132nd annual Cumberland County Fair, Sept. 25-Oct. 1, in Cumberland.

The Cumberland Fair has lots of parking in the fields opposite the fairgrounds. There are lots of fun things for the kids to see. Maine kids who haven’t spent much time on a farm, can get an up close look at pigs, goats, cows and other farm animals in the exhibition halls.

There are rides galore at this fair. Whether you like the fast and dizzy rides or the slow and easy kiddy rides, there are plenty of both. There is also a new Cumberland Fair Queen Contest.

If the rains of 2004 made your garden grow like crazy, you can enter your prize pumpkins or squash in the 17th annual Maine State Pumpkin and Squash Weigh-In Contest. It’s open to all Maine residents provided the fruit was grown in state.

Some event highlights planned for the week include 4-by-4 truck drags, antique tractor parade, bean hole dinner, pig races, draft horse and draft pony shows.

For more information about the fair, see www.cumberlandfair.com.

Fryeburg Fair

It may be a little easier to get around at this year’s Fryeburg Fair, as organizers spent $250,000 on capital improvements to buildings and roads at the fairgrounds last year. The fair runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 9.

June Hammond, secretary of the fair, said that some of the most popular attractions at the fair, in addition to the many carnival rides and exhibits, are the pig scrambles, the skillet throw, harness racing and Woodsman Day.

In the pig scramble, there are four 12 to 14-week-old pigs and six youngsters equipped with sacks. The object of the scramble is to get a pig into your sack. The two kids who don’t get a pig each win $10. There are different categories: one for all children and one for children in the Fryeburg school system. The children sign up for the scramble ahead of time, and the names of the lucky participants are pulled out of a hat.

In the “skillet throw,” women from Maine and away showcase their skillet-throwing prowess. The object of this contest is not only to throw the skillet far, but also to throw it straight. Newcomers should be warned that there are some ringers, including a 93-year-old, who have a lot of experience in this event, Hammond said.

“People crowd the grandstands for this one. It’s very well-attended,” she said.

The Fryeburg Fair is well known and very well attended, so expect traffic along the way. Hammond said the best days to go are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday is senior citizen day; everyone over 65 gets in free.

For more information on the fair, see www.fryeburgfair.com or call 935-3268.


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