OXFORD — It felt like mid-July for the sweltering start of the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday, when hundreds of schoolchildren learned some cool stuff from local experts during Educational Day.

This year’s theme was It’s All in the Soil, and from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. children participated in dozens of activities and presentations ranging from mining to agriculture.

Christopher Easton of Baker Hill Bees and Gardens talked about his bees and worms. It’s not such an odd combination as it might sound. Easton is a beekeeper and a mulch gardener. He raises bees that help his garden grow, and he uses earthworms in the mulch-covered soil to help compost the mulch into nutrient-rich soil. That also helps his garden grow. Students learned that it’s all for the same goal: delicious and nutritious food.

Other hands-on demonstrations showed students how to search for precious gemstones, like those found in Western Maine. Small, plastic swimming pools were filled with rock debris that children could search and sift through to find treasures, and a wash line was set up to show fair-goers how local mining operations worked.

The fair also featured food. You could probably find a fried version of just about anything at one of the many food booths. Other offerings included corn chowder, apple crisp, ice cream, hand-cut french fries and homemade fudge.

Antique tractors were on display along with woodworking equipment used in the forestry trades.

There were llamas, turkeys, goats, piglets, calves, geese, bunnies and ducks in a petting zoo. Three-year-old Laney of Otisfield enjoyed playing with the baby bunnies and ducks.

“Can I touch them, Mommy?” she asked, and, thanks to the hands-on approach at the fair, Laney’s request was granted.

There were plenty of agricultural exhibits, including prizes for the largest pumpkins. Cooking contest winners, crafts galore and 4-H displays filled several of the buildings where people flocked to escape the heat.

Newer Oxford residents Briana, 5, and her sister Ariel, 4, sat in a porch swing at the Mollyockett Motel’s display stuffing handfuls of pink cotton candy in their mouths and taking a break from walking the grounds on Pottle Road while they waited for their favorite part of the day.

“We’re waiting for the rides,” Ariel said.

Some of the older visitors beat the heat by playing checkers while sitting on antique barrels in the museum, or enjoying a sour pickle from the country store display like folks might have done on a park bench in the town square several decades ago.

The fair goes until Saturday, Sept. 19. Events begin at 9 a.m. daily.

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