Mrs Hill and Lucas Ames lead the class back to the buses for their return to the Guy E. Rowe School after a fun morning at the Agriculture and Conservation Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Kaelan Bartholomew takes the wheel of a John Deere Tractor during Agriculture and Conservation Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

OXFORD — In a tent at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday morning, a table staffed by members of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club was buzzing.

Club President Christopher Easton, holding a piece of a hive behind a plexiglass viewing case, taught Stephen Steele and Howard Thurston, both 6, about the inner machinations of hive life, including the role of the omnipotent hive queen. Caught after the presentation, both youngsters said they appreciated bees and loved honey, the tasty byproduct of a thriving hive.

Kate Larson, Brea Kouba and Naomi Matos peer into a beehive manned by Christopher Easton of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club exhibit at Agriculture and Conservation Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The boys were at the fair for Agriculture and Conservation Day, which featured educational exhibits.

Honey Bee Club member Paula Easton said education is par for the course. The club meets once a month at the University of Maine at Augusta Extension Office in Paris, where they teach new beekeepers and anyone interested in the fuzzy insects the ins and outs of the hive, with the goal of helping bees recover from a rapidly decreasing population.

A beehive exhibit at the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club exhibit at Agriculture and Conservation Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“We’re trying to help the bees stay healthy because 80 percent of our food would not be here if we didn’t have our bees and pollinators,” Easton said.

The bee table was among 50 exhibitors on the first day of the Oxford County Fair, known as Agriculture and Conservation Day, a cooperative event of the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Oxford County Agricultural Society.

According to Jean Federico, about 700 students and parents came to Conservation Day.

Federico organizes the event and says the goal is to convince youngsters to get outside and realize that there’s more to life than what’s behind a screen.

“I really wanted to make kids realize that there is so much to do outside that has nothing to do with TV, computers and games,” she said.

Across from the educational tent, children competed in sack races and got to climb up on stationary tractors, a major draw for the students in Holly Hill’s first-grade class.

Noel Waterman, left, and Annabelle Alves participate in a sack race at the Oxford County Fair in Oxford on Wednesday as part of Agriculture and Conservation Day. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Hill teaches at Guy E. Rowe School in Norway. According to her student Kolby Tracey, getting up on the tractors was “awesome.” Fellow student Kayden Thomas said his family just bought an orange tractor. On Wednesday, he had a chance to climb up on a green one.

Another major draw was Bolo, a dog with a job. Bolo rides with the Norway Police Department every day on patrol, tracking and finding narcotics and lost evidence from crime scenes.

“He can locate things that smell like human odors in areas where humans don’t tend to be, like in a field,” officer John Lewis said.

As children clamored up to a police cruiser to pet Bolo, Lewis said that while the K-9 officer probably would like to be out doing work, he appreciated the chance to meet new faces.

“He does love sitting here getting loved on,” Lewis said.

On Saturday, September 14, despite rainy weather, fair-goers still enjoyed an antique tractor pull the day on the last day of the fair.

12 youngsters line up for the Oxford County Fair’s pig scramble September 14. Sun Journal/Jon Bolduc

As Michael Ross of Windham got ready to pull 7,500 pounds with his green 1955 John Deere Model 70 at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday, he said the trick to a successful tractor pull is in the traction.

Coming out through the gate, you just want to go as far as you can go,” Ross said. “You look at the track to see the best approach through the mud.” 

The goal of a pull is obvious. Whoever pulls the weight the farthest wins. Hooking up to a weight set in a moving sled, different classes of antique tractors pull from 2,000 to 8,500 pounds. Tractors in the pull can’t be newer than 1960.

David Obert, 18, of Norridgewock competes in the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Operating and maintaining the tractor is the easy part. Ross said he puts enough elbow grease into his machines to have confidence that they will work. Most of the strategy and skill comes in as pullers plot a path through the mud.

Scott Stevens of Oxford competes in the antique tractor pull with his Oliver Row Crop 77 at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Every track is different,” he said. “You can plan and do good on one track, and the next track, you’ll do terrible. It’s just how it goes.”

Ross said he maintains six antique tractors. He bought his 1955 John Deere from an elderly farmer in Connecticut. According to Ross, that model is hard to find in Maine. Though he doesn’t live on a farm anymore, Ross said he still harbors a soft spot for tractors.

“I grew up on a farm,” Ross said. “It was in my blood, and I couldn’t let go of it. A lot of these guys are that way.” 

Ross said pretty much every competitor at the pull was a member of the Maine Antique Tractors Association, an organization of tractor enthusiasts that organizes pulls and keeps rankings of competitors.

“We’re mostly here for the fun of it, and the camaraderie. Just being around all these guys, that’s what makes it all worth it,” Ross said. 

Later in the afternoon, armed with a burlap sack, Mikey Doze, 6, of Oxford, managed to bag a piglet at the pig scramble with the help of his father.

Doze said he was going to name his new pig “Bacon.” 

“I let go of him a few times, but then the other time I kept holding onto him. And they bagged him,” Doze said.

Bacon will live with the Dozes’ four dogs. One day, Bacon may live up to his name.

Brooklyn Thorpe and Abigail Canon pet Norway Police Department K-9 officer Bolo as officer John Lewis stands by during Agriculture and Conservation Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Mark Helsor of Lincoln waits to pull with his 1954 Ford 850 during the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Scott Stevens of Oxford competes in the antique tractor pull with his Oliver Row Crop 77 at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Members of the Maine Antique Tractor Club listen as pulling chairman Mike Rivard holds a drivers’ meeting before the start of the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Cole Berry, 14, of Livermore Falls competes in the antique tractor pull with his Farmall Cub at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Steven Lee of Weld controls the weighted sled at right. Berry is a freshman at Spruce Mountain High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Owen Wentworth of Vassalboro volunteers to be the stop-and-go flagger during the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Wentworth said each tractor in the pull is at least 30 years old. “These tractors will never die,” he said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I’m 74 and it’s 72,” Don Pease of Jay said of his 1947 McCormick Farmall tractor. “My dad bought it when I was 2 years old and it runs just as good now as it did back then.” Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Steven Lee, left, of Weld and Dennis Quint of Monticello share a laugh before the start of the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Cole Berry, 14, of Livermore Falls talks with his grandfather, Norman Brown, before the start of the antique tractor pull at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday. Berry is a freshman at Spruce Mountain High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

 

 

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