Farmington Fair celebrates farming

4 mins read

FARMINGTON – As grangers unloaded their prized jars of pickled pickles, beets and long green beans onto the shelves in the Exhibition Hall, truckloads of the vendors’ supplies were hauled to the waiting vacant booths lined up in loud colors along the midway at the fairgrounds.

Climbing high to the top of the pulling ring’s metal roof peak, there was a final check of the wiring to the speakers that on Sunday will crackle to life once more to announce the entrants’ names and how well they did.

For the 168th year, the Farmington Fairgrounds will open its tall chain link fence gates to pari-mutual races, midway rides, and a huge array of farm culture and heritage that draws thousands of people from all over Maine and beyond to this place for one week.

Farming’s gifts are celebrated with ribbons for each show ring competition, handicraft on display, and tomato grown. At this fair, demonstrations of blacksmithing, beekeeping and chainsaw work will show how it’s done. At the Agriculture Museum, the farming way of life way back when is demonstrated, too, with antiques and artifacts.

This year, the town of New Vineyard is highlighted at the fairgrounds museum next to the Exhibition Hall. Today, members of the New Vineyard Historical Society were busy getting the room filled with all things New Vineyard.

Society president, Sherwood Anderson, pointed to a wedding dress worn by a relative of his in 1875. A photo next to the intricately-detailed brown taffeta dress shows the young, smiling Lucy Elizabeth Bixby who married Orrin S. Turner of chair-making fame. Turner’s “self-adjusting back chair,” camp chairs and children’s chairs were the thing back in the 1880s. His so-called Gentlemen’s Easy Chair went for a whopping $2.25 new. There is so much on display, Anderson said, and it’s thanks to the many people who loaned their precious artifacts to complete the exhibit.

Carol Boynton, left and Melissa Knowles, members of the Chesterville Grange #20, begin filling their booth with the many handicrafts members have created for this year’s the Exhibition Hall on Friday.

Upstairs in the Exhibition Hall, ace reporter Barbara Niles Yeaton is remembered with a showing of her photographs collected after working 55 years in the journalism game. She wrote for the Lewiston Sun Journal and the Franklin Journal covering the countless stories of this area. At 89, she filed her final column in 2004 and died at the age of 92 on Aug. 24, 2007.

Unfortunately, a large collection of her photographs remain unidentified and Don LaRoche, who was given Yeaton’s collection by her family, is asking for help from fairgoers to find out more about the people in the photos. He will be at the exhibit from start of finish hoping to gather information for the Yeaton collection.

The Farmington Fair opens Sunday, Sept. 14 at 8:30 a.m. with the steer and oxen scooting contest in the pulling ring and closes Saturday, Sept. 20 after the final demolition derby is held at 7 p.m. in front of the large grandstand.

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