Northern Maine Fair opts for smaller-scale event due to pandemic

3 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With the COVID-19 pandemic still a prevalent issue throughout the state, the Northern Maine Fair Association has decided to host a four-day agricultural fair instead of its traditional nine days of events.

Fair Association president Lynwood Winslow noted that CDC guidelines, financial costs and travel commitments necessary for transferring and hosting carnival rides and harness races led to the group canceling those popular attractions.

“We wanted to let our vendors know early on what we were doing so that they could set dates at other locations. Northern Maine is a long way for them to travel and it takes a lot of people to make those events happen,” Winslow said.

Instead, the all-volunteer association is planning for what they hope will be four days of other traditional fair events, including agricultural exhibitions and contests, local food vendors and music performances, truck pulling, blacksmith demonstrations and demolition derbies. The official event schedule will be finalized in the coming months.

Blacksmith Eugene Katsman and his 9-year-old apprentice Ben Chertier work on a craft together during Northern Maine Fair in 2019. (File: Nina Mahaleris | The Star-Herald)

Regardless of what the fair looks like, the events will bring a much-needed financial boost to the Northern Maine Fair Association. The organization relies on volunteers to maintain the fairgrounds, but various insurance and electricity costs rack up the yearly bill to $40,000. A traditional nine-day fair typically needs a $750,000 budget to become reality.

Though this summer’s fair will involve social distancing requirements for all events and activities, Winslow remains hopeful that many community members will support the fair and allow the traditions to continue for years to come.

“We were disappointed at having to cancel last year’s fair and shorten this one, but our hope is to keep it going and invest in our facilities,” Winslow said. “It’ll be different, but our biggest priority is keeping our fairgoers safe.”