A former NASCAR racing champion and a new treehouse for little lumberjacks are on the way for this year’s northern Maine fair.
The event takes place from Thursday August 3rd to Sunday August 7th at the almost Isle exhibition center.
The fair began in 1851 and still attracts thousands of residents and visitors. Although there are no more carnival rides and harness racing, organizers have added more family-friendly activities to make up the difference. Fair goers will see more tractors pulling and kids will find more to explore in the blockbuster Lil’ Lumberjacks exhibit, fair chairman Lynwood Winslow said.
And of course there will be lots of farm animals.
“We know some people associate fun with carnival rides, but a lot of people have never ridden these rides. We try to give families a good reason to come to the fair,” Winslow said. “And the number one reason children go to fairs is for animals.”
Last year, the kids found another reason to attend the opening of Lil’ Lumberjacks at the Fair. In a wooded setting among trees and small cabins, the youth met rangers and Smokey Bear, made S’mores, tossed bean bags and other fun activities, while learning about tree types and forestry practices.
A newly built tree house which will hold books and a sugar shack to show how syrup is made now complete the arrangement. Designed as a two-year project, the interactive exhibit is inspired by the popular Lil’ Farmers at the Fair, which allows children to learn about farming.
The response has been consistently positive from the community and forestry companies, which like many other industries are struggling to attract new workers, Winslow said.
“They are just thrilled to see a presentation of their industry that can excite young people about it, and at the same time give them a realistic and practical experience to touch, see and feel,” he said.
Although aimed at school-aged children, the exhibit was equally popular with adults, he said.
Truck and tractor pulling events always draw crowds, and this year will include a new farm tractor pulling session on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 5, Winslow said.
Former NASCAR racer Andy Santerre of North Yarmouth will be on hand with the Maine Vintage Race Car Association’s traveling museum, as part of the Rods, Rides and Relics Transportation Show at the Forum Aug. 5-6.
Santerre was NASCAR Busch North Series champion from 2002 to 2005 and sits on the board of directors of the classic car association.
The 4-H Baby Beef Auction will return at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, where local youth will display their cattle for sale.
Other attractions will include free monster truck rides for kids, the annual lumberjack roundup, cooking contests, live music, carnival-style games hosted by local teens, horse shows and a motorcycle stunt show — and, of course, popular treats.
In keeping with the agriculture theme, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will lecture on crops, potato pests, soil health and food preservation. Exhibits will feature blacksmithing, forestry, crops and farm equipment.
Many teens are now required to volunteer hours before graduating, and fair officials are inviting local teens to join the fair’s large group of volunteers, Winslow said.
Although it is very different now since the fair can no longer hold carnival rides, the continued support of the community allows the fair to continue, he said. It’s one of the few things in the area that’s been around for over 150 years.
“We know it’s a challenge and we know people have a lot of options, but we’re just grateful for the community that believes in what we’re doing,” he said. “We hope people will bring their families and create a new generation of people who love the fair.”
For a full schedule of activities, visit the fair’s website or Facebook page at facebook.com/northernmainefairgrounds.
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