Jeff O’Donnell stands beside the large, working air compressor he donated to the Farmington Fair, which opens Sunday and runs through Saturday, Sept. 25. The equipment is originally from the Pejepscot paper mill in Topsham and is displayed in a new addition at the shingle mill. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — Officials are excited to be back and hoping for good weather for the 180th Farmington Fair, which opens Sunday and runs through Saturday, Sept. 25.

The fair was canceled last year because of COVID-19 and unless things change at the state level, the fair is a go.

Cushing Amusements, the new midway in 2019, is returning, Secretary Neal Yeaton said.

“It’s a very good midway, they tell me they’ve got something new,” he said. “They told me I would have to go to Clinton or Blue Hill to find out what it was or wait until they get here. The way it looks, I might have to wait until they get here.”

The car and equipment dealers and other commercial vendors have very low inventories, Yeaton said.

“We don’t know what they will be bringing, a couple have said they don’t have anything new to bring,” he said. “Hopefully they can show up with something.”

Maine Center for Disease Control guidelines regarding the coronavirus require that masks be worn in buildings and one-way traffic be observed indoors. Signs will be installed but officials admit it will be difficult to enforce.

“I thought of putting a rope down the middle of the Starbird Building but like Rupert (Pratt) brought up, if someone stops to talk, you can’t get around them,” Yeaton said.

“It will just cause more congestion,” Pratt, chairman of the board of directors, said. “Masks will be available at the ends of buildings if someone needs one.”

Two dozen new hand sanitizing stations were purchased and will be installed around the fairgrounds, Yeaton said.

Franklin Memorial Hospital has obtained a grant so attendees can get their COVID-19 vaccination at the fair. NorthStar personnel will give shots, probably at the first aid building. Flu shots will also be offered at the Healthy Community Coalition van by the racetrack.

Baby changing stations have been added to the bathrooms near the Exhibition Hall.

“The last few years we’ve had a lot of people come (to the Secretary’s Office), asked if they could use the facilities,” Yeaton said. “My wife decided they should be added. If this works out well we may put one in the other bathrooms.”

Yeaton is excited that 4-H programs will be participating, although the 4-H livestock auctions were canceled earlier this year.

“We chose early not to have a sale so the kids wouldn’t spend a lot of money and not have a place to get rid of their animals,” Pratt said. “We just felt it was fairer to the kids to say upfront, ‘we don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

“It’s unfortunate,” Yeaton said. “This whole COVID thing has affected 4-H big time. They haven’t been able to meet. It seems they can make projects better when they can physically come together. They don’t get so much out of it.”

Most 4-H livestock shows are a go. No swine have been entered this year, probably because there’s no auction, Yeaton said.

The Heart of Maine Dairy Goats and Belted Galloway beef breeds will be shown. Other dairy, beef and sheep breeds will be on display in the barns. Lane Farms will have its barnyard display.

Harness racing will be held starting at 2 p.m. daily. The fields look good and no competing tracks will be operating, Yeaton said.

A new addition to the Farmington Fair this year is a Chaise carriage. Originally owned by Jonathan Rust or Russ, who was born in Farmington Falls in 1761, it was donated to the fair by the town of New Sharon. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Jeff O’Donnell has taken over management of the agricultural museum. New Sharon has donated a horse-drawn Chaise carriage that for years was on display at the Maine State Museum. Its owner was Jonathan Rust or Russ, who was born Dec. 21, 1761, in Farmington Falls.

“They decided they didn’t want it anymore,” O’Donnell said. “It was in storage at the New Sharon Fire Department for years. It’s still in need of some repair/restoration but it’s a nice piece to have.”

A new addition on the shingle mill houses an air compressor and other equipment, Yeaton said. Donated by O’Donnell, the large, working compressor comes from the former Pejepscot paper mill in Topsham.

Among the events not returning this year are Agriculture Day on Monday, the maple syrup house, the Elks and Farmington Historical Society food booths, and the American Legion beano, although the organization will have its Lucky 7 game.

The gazebo will be moved closer to the beano building where tables and chairs will be under cover, Pratt said. Picnic tables will be found outside, he said.

Farmington firemen are operating their booth near the pulling ring. The Farmington Grange food booth in the Exhibition Hall will sell only bagged lunches and foods to go.

With the merger of Wilson and Chesterville Granges, there will be two large displays in the Exhibition Hall. Tyler Jenness will sell his farm’s products and the Farmington Historical Society will have a display. Many Granges will be exhibiting their fancywork and all spaces in the hall are filled.

Sections of buildings have been painted, support beams replaced where needed and the ramp redone on the Exhibition Hall. The crew has been putting in 40-hour weeks to make sure everything is ready.

“It would be devastating psychologically if the fair couldn’t be held,” O’Donnell said.

“I hope that things stay together enough the way we’re at,” Yeaton added.


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