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Northern Maine Fair Goes 

Back to its Agricultural Roots


Unveils new “kid friendly” events


By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, August 10, 2011, p. 1

photo/David Deschesne

PRESQUE ISLE—The Northern Maine Fair recently concluded its 157th annual fair. While several days' activities were hampered by rain, the Fair directors managed to make their way through and still carry most of the events. "We were worried on Tuesday that we were going to get rained out on our children's night, which was our pig scramble and fireworks," said NMF President, Kevin McCartney. "We were thinking about moving those events to Wednesday. We went back and forth as a big board does and decided we might as well go with what we have and that was the right decision because the weather did hold out for us.

The weather did hold off on Tuesday night. After the pig scramble, the United Way produced a Aroostook Idol/Northern Star talent review reunion show in front of the grandstand featuring many of their programs' past winners. "The weather did hurt us severely on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It rained badly on Monday but the threat of rain reduced the crowd on Tuesday and Wednesday. The other days have been pretty consistent with what they were last year."

McCartney is excited to report the Fair has seen an upsurge in small children this year. "This was one of the things that I really wanted to focus on. We've been working now for several years in building up programs for small children and particularly this year with educational programs.

In recent years we've done the princess/pirate parties which have been a tremendous success. The pageant last year was its first time and its reception by the public was amazing. This year it was twice as big."

One of the most popular attractions for children and their parents was the Little Farmers at the Fair exhibit. Children were able to walk through various mini-barns and experience simulated activities in the farming business. They were able to "harvest" simulated produce and sell it at the simulated Farmer's Market. "There always seemed to be a steady group of kids growing through the exhibits - even in the early afternoon, on a hot day, which is normally a fairly slow time for Fairs," said McCartney. "Jessica Blackstone had done a lot of the landmark work on that project. Not only were children going through, but the parents, as well, just to see what we've done."

story continued, below


Northern Maine Fair Photo Album.  Queens' and Misc. photos by David Deschesne

Click Here!

Fair officials estimate nearly 2,000 kids are estimated to have gone through the display.

The Fair Association is currently looking for a small grain bin for the Little Farmers exhibit. "If anybody has an old aluminum grain bin that we could use to make a little granary for the kids to walk through next year, that is one of the things we're looking for."

The area behind the commercial exhibition building has featured various family shows in the past few years and has come to be named "Andyland" after entertainment organizer, Andy LeBlanc. "Andy started the exotic animals there; in the past, we've had elephants, tigers and chimpanzees. This year we went a little less exotic with the Frisbee dogs," explained McCartney. "Most of the dogs were taken from animal shelters and trained to do amazing stunts. We had the same size crowd, people enjoyed the dogs. In past years we've had a magician for the middle of the week. This year, the Frisbee dogs were a little less expensive than the really exotic animals so we were able to do the magician act for all nine days and I think that worked out very well."

There have been compliments that the livestock areas look prettier than anybody remembers them and there are now far more people attending events held in those locations. "I think the Little Farmers have brought people around there. We also had the Ag Olympics - a second Jessica Blackstone project. About sixty kids participated in various games and contests, the 4H were really trying to remind us of why we're here. People have been telling me they were able to come in, go to the livestock area and spend the whole day participating in the activities and didn't spend a dime more than they paid to get through the gate. They didn't have to do 'wall-to-wall' rides to entertain their kids."

Kevin wanted the Fair to maintain its focus as an agricultural fair. "Yes, we have a midway but we do not see ourselves as being a carnival. There are some fairs that have gone that way, with just the rides. I think ten or fifteen years ago we were going that way. But we've really been working to build the agriculture in. We're an agricultural community. Most of us don't work on the farm anymore, but we still need to remind ourselves what farms are about and where our food comes from."



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