BLUE HILL, Maine — Excitement was in the air Sunday at the annual Blue Hill Fair, as visitors thronged the rows between vending booths and the grand-stand to soak in events such as the traditional sheep dog competition.
The mingled aromas of french fries and fried onion rings wafted over the fair-grounds to greet each visitor. People lined up in front of ice cream booths for a cone of soft or hard ice cream.
A Ferris wheel dominated the sky above the midway, surrounded by a funhouse, or “Freakhouse,” and rides such as the Jeep Safari or the Hampton Eight Sweep for children, or the Zipper, provided by Smokey’s Greater Shows.
Traffic coming to the fair was steady, and parking lot attendants in fields outside the fairgrounds organized parking spaces that seemed to open up for each visitor.
Special events, such as the Intercontinental and Greater Hancock County Championship Women’s Skillet Toss, Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumber-jack Show, which had demonstrations of ax-throwing, speed chopping and logrolling, pulled visitors. Owner Tina Scheer of Trenton has competed as a contestant on national television.
Fair president Rob Eaton said the attendance for the five days compares favorably with last year’s figures. He expected about 30,000 people to attend.
“Every day’s a little different, but I think we’re on track with where we normally are,” said Eaton, who is in his 12th year with the fair. Traditionally, Sunday is the busiest day, he added.
“We’ve expanded some of the things we did last year,” he said. “We have a second entertainment stage, which we added last year.”
Other events, such as the dog shows, have been going on for 52 years, he added. The fair itself started in 1891.
Other traditional events include harness racing on Saturday and Monday and the horse and oxen pulls.
He said he felt pretty good about this year’s events.
“Going into the fair, my goals was to try to maintain the same level of attendance that we had last year, and we’re petty much on track,” he reiterated.
“In this economy, if you can hold your own, you’re doing OK,” he added.
“We try to keep it as close to a traditional country fair as possible,” Eaton said.
Working on the fair is a year-round activity. As soon as this fair is over, Eaton will start planning for next year’s, he said.