Summer and fall in Maine are normally a time of pig races, demolitions derbies and piles of fried food at the state’s agriculture fairs.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic interrupted that, as all 26 fairs canceled. That includes fairs ranging from the Bangor State Fair, which typically attracts about 50,000 people, to the Houlton Fair, which takes place astride the Canadian border.
Some of the events have tried to salvage the season with virtual versions. The state would ordinarily be gearing up for the Fryeburg Fair, which dates to 1851 and employs hundreds of people in western Maine. The event is moving online this year from Oct. 4 to 11.
Even the fair’s cow impersonating event, called “Moo-La-Palooza,” is moving online.
“Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of our community as well as the thousands of visitors who come to our rural town and fairgrounds each year,” fair organizers said in a statement.
The Common Ground Country Fair, which is the state’s annual celebration of organic farming and rural living, moved online in September. The fair usually includes in-person seminars about everything from how to wield a scythe to how to raise rare breeds of sheep.
Moving the fair online was difficult, but it allowed it to happen at all, said organizers with Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners, which puts on the event. The online version stayed true to the event’s quirky traditions with streaming content about how to track wildlife and make food from invasive plants.
The fairs hope to be back next year. Fryeburg Fair organizers have already booked a week in October 2021.