MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Fair, the state’s first fair of the year, went off without a hitch, with excellent weather and strong attendance, according to organizers.

“The fair went good. We had a lot of attendance, some new events and live entertainment on opening day, which was a big draw,” said Phil Butterfield, president of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, which puts on the fair. “And the weather has been perfect, so that’s helped a lot.”

Phoenix Klem, left, and Skyla Klem swing Wednesday on Air Time, a ride at the Monmouth Fair. The 111th annual fair at 79 Academy Road opened Wednesday and ran through Saturday night. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Butterfield said Saturday that while he did not have exact numbers on attendance, he estimated “several thousand” people visited the fair, which ran from Wednesday through Saturday.

Among the additions this year: A stage that hosted a different musical performance each night.

Fair Vice President Diana Morgan said about 20 people are involved in planning the fair.

“After the fair, we have a meeting and evaluate what went on and start thinking about the next year’s fair,” Morgan said, “so it is a year-round process.”


Butterfield, who grew up on a dairy farm in Monmouth, said he and many of the event’s guests have been coming to the Monmouth Fair for years.

“We try to keep this agricultural-based, so that people have the opportunity to come here and see what agriculture really is, where their food comes from and how things were done 100 years ago,” Butterfield said. “We want the kids to have the opportunity to understand this, too, because, ultimately, if they don’t take over what we’re doing here, this is going to be something that doesn’t continue.”

Butterfield said he is deeply involved with the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs, which helps oversee all of the state’s fairs.

“We collaborate together, help each other and pass information back and forth,” he said. “It makes no difference whether it’s the Monmouth Fair or the Fryeburg Fair. Everybody sees the same struggles.”

Competitors in the baby show Thursday morning do not have to do much to look their cutest at the Monmouth Fair. Benjamin Hopkins of Leeds is more interested in the tractor and oxen pull than sitting still during the show as his mother, Tiffani, second from left, enjoys a laugh. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The larger, farm-focused events at the Monmouth Fair included livestock pulling. Stacy McConkey and her husband, Brett, oversee the horse and oxen pulling, which Stacy McConkey’s father oversaw for 42 years, until she took over about 15 years ago.

On Saturday afternoon, they had an entry with five of Maine’s largest horses, which Stacy McConkey said weighed about 4,500 pounds per pair.


On Friday, they had oxen that weighed between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds per pair.

“That was a good show for the crowd,” she said, adding the event generated strong attendance.

Last year, the livestock pulling events saw record attendance, likely because it was the first year for the fair after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Stacy McConkey.

“When you have a fair every year, you kind of take it granted,” she said.  “Then, when we had no fairs, not only did the exhibitors miss it, but the crowd missed it. So it was packed all four days.”

Fair Secretary Mark Dennett said this year’s Monmouth Fair saw overall attendance on par with pre-pandemic years.

Logan Robinson directs Drummer and Glory through the farmers horse log hauling course Wednesday at the Monmouth Fairgrounds. In that event, contestants direct a pair of horses pulling a sledge with logs through a curving course. To get a better score they try to avoid touching or knocking over the cones. Their run is also timed and the faster run wins in the case of a tie. The 111th annual fair opened Wednesday and ran through Saturday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While many events focused on the fair’s traditional agricultural theme, Butterfield said he and organizers worked to ensure there was something for almost everyone.


The fair kicked off Wednesday with a farmers’ horse pull, a frying pan and hay bale toss and a performance by disco band Motor Booty Affair.

On Thursday, guests were treated to the farmers’ four-ox pull, pig scramble and a performance by Sharon Hood & Dixon Road.

Friday night featured a show that included off-road trucks and a performance by The Business.

The fair finished Saturday with a truck pull and a performance by Steve and the Good Ole Boys.

A blue ribbon sits on a plate of blueberry scones Wednesday in the Exhibition Hall of the Monmouth Fairgrounds. Scones were a special category in this year’s baking contests in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the British throne. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Throughout the fair, attendees could enjoy a small variety of rides, and visit food vendors offering goodies that included pizza, doughboys and deep-fried Oreo cookies.

Butterfield said it is important people come out, spend time with family and friends and enjoy Maine’s fairs.

“We need people to support the fairs — not just this one, but all fairs,” he said. “We want people to learn about it. To come and not just eat the food and ride on the rides, but to see the inner workings of agriculture. That’s what it’s about.”

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