December 17, 2018
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Bangor State Fair: You can’t see it on TV

Caitlin Rogers | BDN
Caitlin Rogers | BDN
The Ferris wheel at the Bangor State Fair. The fair opens Friday, July 27.

Funnel cake. A Ferris wheel. Goats. Roller coasters. Live music. Fried dough.

There’s probably only one place you’ll find all of these things together: the Bangor State Fair, which opens Friday at Bass Park in Bangor.

The fair gates open at 2 p.m., and the fair will continue until Aug. 5.

E.J. Dean, president of fair partner Fiesta Shows — the company that owns and sets up the fair’s amusement park and rides — says the best part of the fair, in his eyes, is seeing how much kids enjoy being there and how much they love the rides.

“It’s an enjoyment because I can see the correlation with my family,” Dean said. He has two young sons, one of whom will be coming this year to see Bangor’s fair.

A big focus for Fiesta Shows, which is based in Seabrook, New Hampshire, has been family and the fair experience. “Our theme about five years ago was ‘making memories’,” Dean said. As a third-generation operator, he’s no stranger to the fairground, and he wants to make sure other families leave the fair with positive memories.

“I really want to make sure, not just for the generations of my family but the generations that visit us — at any event — it’s a memorable experience,” Dean said.

At this year’s fair, there will be no shortage of multigenerational participation. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H club will host events every day of the fair, many of which include work by its young members.

“They have done a lot of things throughout the year, a lot of 4-H projects in their clubs, worked very, very hard, so you can see some of their results,” associate extension professor Barbara Baker said.

Caitlin Rogers | BDN
Caitlin Rogers | BDN
Sheila Norman, left, and Barbara Baker from the University of Maine Cooperative 4-H club pose with a blooming onion from the Bangor State Fair.

These projects can include anything from cooking to science to photography. The 4-H exhibit hall will be open all week, located at the 4-H barn down the road from rides and food tents.

There also will be a place inside the 4-H’s Old McDonald Farm area called Little Farmers, where Baker said younger kids can come to relax and learn. “Kids can come and play, learn about the food system cycle, learn about how things grow and become food, and that kind of thing,” she said. “A little about business and health, but it’s all fun.

One of the biggest 4-H events will be the live auction Friday, Aug. 3, according to Community Education Assistant Sheila Norman. The program participants will sell the animals they put many hours of time and effort into raising.

“There are usually a few tears, but it’s also learning the reward of that work,” Norman said.

Caitlin Rogers | BDN
Caitlin Rogers | BDN
Team member Scot Koster of Disc-Connected K9s poses with Rock-It.

After the 4-H tent, visitors can catch one of three daily shows put on by Disc-Connected K-9s. Team member Scot Koster said that when he had the choice between going to North Dakota or Maine for a show, he chose Maine.

Most of all, Koster said he hopes for energetic crowds, which help his team give their best performances.

This year the fair has gone back to the traditional split admission system, where visitors must pay an admission fee as well as individual ride fares. That can be off-putting for some, but Dean said they’re still trying to be cost-sensitive by hosting some discounted days.

Those discounted days are slated for July 30, Aug. 2 and Aug. 5, when visitors can purchase an unlimited-ride wristband for $12, in addition to the admission fare.

For those who are on the fence, Dean said there’s no way to find an equivalent experience anywhere else. “You’re not going to experience it unless you come. There’s nothing on TV, there’s no video game, there’s no virtual reality set that can truly bring you to the fair.”

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