OXFORD – The Oxford Fair isn’t the same without eating a sausage. At least that’s what 71-year-old Viola McAllister of East Waterford says.

“You’ve got to have a sausage no matter how bad your stomach is,” insisted the East Waterford resident. She sat in the sun with her friend, 80-year-old Barbara Sanford of Waterford, wearing a light fleece jacket and dark sunglasses, enjoying the activities of Senior Day at the Oxford Fair on Thursday.

McAllister and Sanford were two of about 500 senior citizens from area veteran homes, nursing homes and as far away as Boston who came by buses and cars, some carrying canes and others being pushed in wheelchairs, but all enjoying a warm September day at the fair.

Sue Goulet of Mechanic Falls, a senior advocate who organized the day, said the senior participants have jumped from about 350 to 500 this year. There were only about 100 a few years ago.

With senior activities ranging from health information to dancing to the tunes of Mac MacHale and the Old Time Radio Gang and a lively contest of fry pan throwing, the crowd had a plenty of fun.

At age 86, Harry Grimm was Goulet’s oldest volunteer at the fry pan throw. “Now there’s a nice-looking man who has all his own teeth. Let’s keep it that way,” chuckled Goulet as Grimm and state Rep. Teresea Hayes, D-Buckfield, judged the throw from the sidelines.

The participants were anxious, prompting Goulet to warn them, “OK kids, you’re going to get detention if you don’t stay behind the line.”

Seniors also had a lunch served under a tent where 20 inscribed and hand-carved wooden canes were handed out. More than one senior whooped it up as they sauntered to the microphone to get the cane, but one man, wearing a 10-gallon hat and yelling “yee ha,” prompted the emcee to declare, “Here comes, Tex. He’s going to be riding the bull tonight.”

McAllister and Sanderson said they have been coming to the fair for 70-plus years. As little girls they went with their families to the old fairgrounds and rode on the ponies and the merry-go-round rides on the site of the current Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris.

“You could buy a box of pears for a dollar then,” recalled Sanborn.

The fair continues Friday and Saturday.

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