FRYEBURG – The grand parade and all the races were canceled. The puddles soaked some sneakers, and the gloomy clouds dimmed the jaunty colors of the fair. But the rain did little to erode fair-goers’ moods or put off the most committed Fryeburg Fair devotees.

“I come every year and I’m like a die-hard fan,” Wendy Fortier, 30 of Sharon, Mass., said as she placed red chips over her number board in the bingo hall. “I have lifelong membership here. I love it.”

Reed Miller, who has been coming to the fair since the mid-1960s, said he and his wife would make the trip from Francestown, N.H., “unless a hurricane or something like that” hit western Maine.

Despite the rain, “There’s a lot you can do at the fair,” Fortier pointed out. “You come play bingo and get dry, you go to the flower show and get dry, you go to the exhibit halls and there’s not too many crowds.” The bingo hall, she advised, is one of the driest places at the fair.

The thinned throngs helped make up for the dreary day in some people’s eyes. “There’s less crowds,” Susan Howard of Limerick bravely said while touring the craft hall with her friend Ellen Pendoley. Saturday was the only day they had free together, they said.

Peggie Dahrooge, of Ashburnham, Mass., said from underneath her soaked poncho that she and her husband Charlie have journeyed to the Fryeburg Fair for 35 years, and no inclement weather would get in their way. “We come prepared for everything,” she said. “The heavy winter coats in case, the ponchos in case, the T-shirts in case.”

Most everyone interviewed agreed that the fair was still as good as ever on a wet day, but only if one were prepared.

“As long as you have a rain jacket and umbrella,” Leah Westhaver of West Fryeburg said. She was shopping for gifts with her mother, Andrea, who said, “We’re basically here to shop, and nothing deters a good shopper.”

Fortier added a few more instructions for ensuring a good time, “As long as you have an extra change of clothes and an extra pair of shoes,” she said.

For the people who traveled to the fair for a specific purpose, the rain was even less of a deterrent. Wendy Hakansson, of Guildhall, Vt., said she comes to see the crafts. “It’s nice to see the new ideas and what people are doing,” she said.

Bonita Therrien, who was working at Hall’s Farm Sugarhouse on Saturday, said, “They come because there’s no other fair like this,” and because people can buy things at the fair hard to locate elsewhere. “I couldn’t find a cat harness anywhere, and I knew I could find it here, and the first day I found it here. It’s almost like Marden’s.”

Pendoley injected the rare sober thought into the otherwise determined high spirits of the fair-goers. She said she was having a good time, but that it might have be a little more fun, “maybe, if it was not quite as damp.”

“But I dry out,” she said.


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