The Bangor State Fair is an event which hearkens back to a simpler time.
One of the headline acts for the 161st edition of the fair, which runs July 30-Aug. 8 at Bass Park, also comes from an earlier, fondly remembered era.
For more than a decade, from 1972 to 1983, “Stacey’s Country Jamboree” was a Saturday night staple which had TV viewers tuning in from all over Eastern Maine.
Now many of that show’s alumni will come together again for a special reunion concert to be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Bass Park Grandstand.
Included in the concert will be Don Nickerson and his Country Mist band, Charlie & Rita Keenan, Vern Robinson, Rich & Nancy, Debbie (Thompson) Pelletier, Peter D, Rodney Hurd, Archie Rivers and Jeff Simons, along with the inimitable Dick Stacey.
Special guests will include Nashville recording artist Joan Kennedy, Stacey’s daughter-in-law; and balladeer Dave Pike from Massachusetts.
This will be the first U.S. reunion concert since the show went off the air. There have been two highlight compilation DVDs made, with the first volume already out and the second to be released in conjunction with the concert.
Stacey, 74, is looking forward to this event, which was organized largely by his son, Scott Stacey, and Kennedy.
“This is my hometown,” he said. “It’d be an appropriate place to wrap this up.”
Another new attraction this year will be David “The Bullet” Smith, billed as “the world’s highest-flying human cannonball,” who, twice a day Aug. 2-5, will be shot out of a cannon, sail the length of the racetrack and land in a safety net.
“I’m not aware of any such act ever appearing at a fair in Maine,” said Mike Dyer, director of Bass Park and the man behind the fair.
Smith will be appearing at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Aug. 2, 6 and 8:30 p.m. Aug. 3, and 5:15 and 9 p.m. Aug. 4-5.
After its success last year, the fair will continue with a $10 admission price, which covers all shows, rides, games and attractions.
One policy change this year restricts smoking to designated kiosks throughout the grounds.
“It’s necessary to comply with workplace and outdoor-eating laws,” Dyer said. “So it should be a smoke-free midway.”
Dyer is a veteran of fair planning, and has got the process down to a science.
“There’s some homework, but a lot of luck,” he joked.
The first thing needed, he said, is some kind of animal attraction. The fair is following up last year’s Tigers of India show with Aussie Kingdom.
Aussie Kingdom is the only traveling Australian animal stage show in the United States. The show includes kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, a kookaburra and rainbow lorikeet, among others.
Aussie Kingdom shows will be held in front of the Bangor Auditorium at 3 and 6:30 p.m. July 30; 1:30, 4 and 7:45 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1; 3:30, 6 and 7:45 p.m. Aug. 2; 3:30 and 6:15 p.m. Aug. 3; 3:30, 6 and 8 p.m. Aug. 4-6; 1:30, 4 and 7:45 p.m. Aug. 7; and 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m. Aug. 8.
In other animal news, returning after a several-year absence is Swampmaster’s Gator Show and exhibits.
The master alligator educator will bring his collection of Florida reptiles for shows the entire length of the fair, behind the Grandstand: 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. July 30; 1, 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. July 31-Aug. 1; 2:30, 5 and 8 p.m. Aug. 2; 3:15, 5:30 and 8 p.m. Aug. 3; 4, 6:15 and 8:15 p.m. Aug. 4-6; 1, 3:30 and 8:15 p.m. Aug. 7; and 1, 3 and 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8.
Also, things on wheels sell. This year, it’s the Kenda and Mike Steidley Bike Stunt Show July 31-Aug. 3 in the auditorium. Show times are 5 and 9 p.m. July 31-Aug. 1 and 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Aug. 2.
Using the auditorium for the rest of the fair will be G Force Laser Tag, in which the venue is transformed into an obstacle course for laser tag. Three sessions based on ages are planned for Aug. 4-8.
Senior Citizen Day will be held on Thursday, Aug. 5, with seniors 60 or older admitted free. On that day will be 3 and 7 p.m. performances by Alan “Mac” McHale and the Radio Gang in the Civic Center lobby.
Other returning favorites include Buffalo and Brandy magic and music show, Backyard Circus, the Great American Duck Races, the EMRBA Rabbit Show and Dino Digs. Then there are the animals, rides, games and food that are inherent to any agricultural fair.
Dyer said there’s no average fairgoer and diversity is essential to the Bangor State Fair’s success.
“Different people take different things away from the fair,” he said. “Ideally, no matter what people enjoy the most, they’ll find it here.”