FARMINGTON — The paint is fresh, the grounds are mowed, the electricians are doing their final connections, and the horses are ready to run.

The 179th Farmington Fair opens Sunday, Sept. 15, and runs until Saturday, Sept. 21.

Trainer Erika Saucier takes a break from grooming her horse, Bulls Eye. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Nicole Carter Buy this Photo

“We’re always upgrading something,” said Tom White, Buildings and Grounds superintendent. “This year we rehabbed the Paddock Judge’s Building. It used to stand in the center of the race track and about 30 years ago it was moved to the far side. We’ve been working to restore it to its original shape.

“We update one section of the grandstands each year, so 20% gets done each season,” he said. “And we’re just finishing up electrical upgrades, so that power is better balanced across our three-phase system. The past couple of fairs have had extremely hot weather and the burden of AC units, compressors and such taxed our system. We’re just about ready with that.”

One big change to the fair in 2019 will be the amusements.

“We’ve contracted with Cushing Amusements of Wilmington, Massachusetts, for the first time,” White said. “So fair-goers are going to see new rides to try out. And not just rides, but Cushing will bring a whole new group of food vendors and games, too. It will give the fair a fresh feel. But logistically it’s working out well for us. Cushing is setting up earlier in the week than we’re used to, so we’re getting extra time to arrange their equipment and test everything out.”

As for animals, the poultry show continues to grow every season, said Rupert Pratt, livestock superintendent. “It’s not just for 4-H anymore. So many people have backyard flocks now and Central Maine Bird Fanciers really draws them in. They hold their own show here at the fairgrounds.”

Pratt expects about 150 cattle to be shown at the fair, mostly from Franklin County but from other areas as well. Sheep will number about 75. There will be draft horse pull competitions and horse racing. Many horses are on site already. The fairgrounds is the home and training facility to 50 trotting racers year-round.

The Paddock Judges’ Building at the Farmington Fair was rehabbed and restored this year. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Nicole Carter Buy this Photo

“Mutton bustin’ is always a big draw,” Pratt said. Kids compete in a sheep-riding event. The contestant who goes the longest distance wins. “It’s not about how long a kid can ride, or reaching a finish line. The one who goes the farthest gets the prize.”

One of the most popular events at the Farmington Fair is the free bike raffle.

“Every night at 5 we will draw two names to win a free bike,” White said. “Tickets are free and the bikes are donated by businesses and by individuals. All a kid has to do is enter to win and be here to accept it if his name is chosen.”

Preparation for the one-week fair takes five months, White said.

“We start in May, and there are lots of people that make it happen,” he said. “We select key parts every year for maintenance or improvement. And once the fair ends, we work the grounds into October, cleaning up, shutting off water.”

 

Two lucky young riders will win a free bike each night of the Farmington Fair. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Nicole Carter


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