HOULTON, Maine— For Debbie Mailman, her family’s Fourth of July festivities are not complete unless they spend at least half the day at the Houlton Agricultural Fair.
The Presque Isle resident said Sunday that she and her husband had been bringing their two teenage children and some of their friends to the fair ever since they were toddlers.
“It’s not too far from home, and it’s kind of an extra treat during the summer because we rarely take vacations,” she said, watching as her daughter snapped photos of fat pink pigs that were sleeping in the fair’s livestock area. “We also go to the Northern Maine Fair when it’s scheduled in Presque Isle, but we always make the Houlton fair part of our Fourth of July. We stay here for half the day and go home and have a barbecue.”
Mailman and her family were among the thousands of people who had flocked to the four-day fair by Sunday to ride the midway rides, compete in contests, hear concerts and sample a wide array of food. The fair began Thursday and was scheduled to wrap up Sunday evening with a fireworks display.
This year’s fair contained a mix of the old and the new. Fan favorites, such as an alligator wrestler and BMX bicycle show, were back this year, as were horse shows and cooking contests. New activities included the bullfrog jumping competition and the appearance of the Thunderbolt, a roller coaster that was a popular attraction at the fair Sunday.
Kent Matthews of Bangor was at the fair that day to watch a powerlifting competition. Matthews grew up in Houlton and attended the fair several times when he was growing up.
He came to the fair with two friends after visiting family in the area.
“Usually I have to work on the Fourth of July, but this year I got the day off,” said Matthews. “So I decided to come up to see my family, and my cousins mentioned that they had been to the fair a few days ago. I hadn’t been in a long time, so I called up a few friends, and we decided to check it out.”
Matthews was sitting at a picnic table, watching as his friends sampled Italian sausages and french fries.
“I hope they don’t want to go on the roller coaster after this,” he said with a grin.
By Sunday afternoon, Debbie Mailman and her family had watched some of the horse pulls and her children had played laser tag. Mailman said she was looking forward to watching the mud runs.
“This really is a nice fair,” she said Sunday. “It’s nice to see people here with their families. I know we have always enjoyed it here.”