FARMINGTON — The show will go on.

Smokey’s Greater Shows will continue providing rides and concessions at Farmington Fair following news of owner George S. “Bud” Gilmore’s death, Glenda Barker, fair board director, said Tuesday.

Gilmore, 70, of Strong and Sarasota, Fla., died Nov. 5 in Palm Bay, Fla., while on his way to his home in Sarasota.

During this weekend’s annual meeting of the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, a memorial service for Gilmore will be held at 4 p.m., Barker said.

Barker is a longtime friend of Gilmore and especially his wife, Jeannette. She said Jeannette was making her way to Maine from Florida on Tuesday.

“Jeannette will keep it going,” Barker said of Smokey’s Greater Shows. “The contract is good. Jeannette said the show will go on as usual.”

Jeannette has worked alongside her husband, who took over leadership of Smokey’s Greater Shows after his father, Roland ‘Smokey’ Gilmore, died in 1970.

“She’s been the backbone of the show the past few years,” Barker said.

Jeannette plans to come home in April to continue providing carnival rides and concessions at several Maine fairs and events this summer, including Farmington Fair and the Yarmouth Clam Festival, Barker said.

Farmington Fair has at least another year on the contract with Smokey’s Greater Show, Farmington Fair board Chairman Rupert Pratt of Strong said.

“Gilmore has done a great job putting on a good show for us,” he said Tuesday. 

There are only a few other shows like Smokey’s, he said.

If she gave it up, the fair association would have a hard time finding one that would give “the quality show we have now,” he said. It would be difficult to “fill Bud’s shoes.”

Gilmore grew up in the Strong area and has a farm in Freeman, Pratt said. The couple resided in Florida in the winters.

Years ago, the show would travel the East Coast but for the past 10 to 15 years, they’ve served fairs and festivals in Maine, Pratt said.

The Gilmores moved to Strong in 1949 and bought a farm in Freeman Township in 1952, where they harvested lumber. Smokey Gilmore started with 30 acres and owned 4,000 acres when he died.

Smokey also traveled around the fairs with a hot dog stand. In 1956, he rented some carnival rides and called it Smokey’s Greater Shows.

He began buying concessions and eventually acquired 40 rides, “Bud” Gilmore said during a 2010 interview at Farmington Fair.

Gilmore said he worked with his father except for time served in the Navy and at college.

During Farmington Fair, he employed about 70 workers and ran 33 rides and six food concessions. That grows to about 100 employees, 50 rides and 16 concessions at Fryeburg Fair.

Many employees are locals but there were also about 35 Mexican workers who returned in the spring to work throughout the summer.

“Bud” Gilmore planned to retire to his farm in Freeman, Barker said.

“He was a lot of fun, good hearted,” she said. “If anyone was in need, he would help.”

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