Mainers are serious about their fairs, and have been for well over a century. These family-friendly events typically feature livestock, agricultural and craft exhibits, animal and mechanical pulls, midways and entertainment. Harness racing and demolition derbies are draws at many Maine fairs.
Some events have stayed small, like the Waterford World's Fair put on each July since 1852 in North Waterford by passionate volunteers who declare, “It is not the size of the Fair, but the huge heart of its people that make it a ‘World‘s Fair!’”
Then there are the fairs that have grown over the decades. The nation’s longest-running agricultural fair, the Skowhegan State Fair, has been going since 1818 (making it older than the state itself). There’s a huge midway, animal exhibits, a flower show, and harness racing, as well as truck pulls and demo derbies that are obviously newer additions to the fair. You’ll find similar attractions at the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle, held the first week of August. It’s been running since 1851, just a few decades more than the Bangor State Fair, which started in 1883. Spread out over 10 days, the fair attracts over 60,000 attendees each year.
Wherever you are in Maine over Labor Day Weekend, they’ll probably be a fair close by. On the coast, there’s the Blue Hill Fair, a traditional country fair full of animal pulls, midway rides and a horseshoe tournament. The larger Windsor Fair, known for its harness racing, features 9 days of agricultural exhibits, vendors and everything else you’d expect. Then there’s the Harmony Free Fair, run by volunteers and free for visitors, including entertainment, animal and mechanical pulling, a demo derby—even a zombie run.
In September, Litchfield Fair, “It’s what a fair should be.”, a three-day country fair includes a large midway, agricultural exhibits, livestock and animal pull events. And, there’s the historical fair museum, Farmington Fair, established in 1840. Large midway, exhibit halls, livestock exhibits, animal pull events, harness racing, demolition derby. One of the state’s most unique fairs is definitely the three-day Common Ground Country Fair, held in Unity each September. No demolition derbies here; the fair focuses on sustainable living, with workshops on organic gardening, alternative energy and folk art. Run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Social and Political Action area; Folk Art, from quilting to folk dancing, blacksmithing, stoneworking and Indian basketmaking. The fair truly offers something for everyone, including unique children’s programming like the Vegetable Garden Parade.
Maine’s fair season culminates in October at the Fryeburg Fair. Saco River Valley in the foothills of the White Mountains is a beautiful setting during prime foliage time in October, Maine’s largest fair includes livestock, an exhibition hall, farm museum, craft demonstrations, harness racing and nightly entertainment. 300,000 attendees (and over 3,000 animals) on the Fairgrounds for a full 8 days.
This isn’t even a full list of Maine’s many fairs. For a full calendar, visit the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs.