Temps in the high 70s made Monday a great day to “sandwich in a fair” – blame Grenville for that line.
The annual Sandwich Fair has been held traditionally on Columbus Day weekend for the past 101 years. It’s one of New Hampshire’s oldest agricultural fairs and includes a parade, horse and oxen competition pulls, stage shows, tractor races, farm animals, local New Hampshire food sampling, and 4H exhibits.
Getting to Sandwich, NH was about a 2-hour road trip from where we’re staying in Nashua. The fair is held in the center of Sandwich in very large fields behind the town library.
The Sandwich Fair began as an agricultural event that local farmers hoped would turn into an annual market day where they could trade and sell their cattle. In 1886, area farmers exhibited 184 yoke of oxen at the fair. In August 1887, the fair was held on October 11. Judges were appointed for the various categories and a prize list was announced. An estimated 3,000 people attended the 1-day event.During the summer of 1888, planning started for another October fair. Fancy work, curiosities, antiques, flowers and plants were again shown in the grange hall. A first was a printed program of events. That year the weather was miserable with an early snow and a small number of people attended the fair.
A local newspaper, the “Sandwich Reporter,” reported in 1893 that fair traffic was heavy with an estimated 3,000 attendees. The report noted there was very little drunkenness and that all of those intoxicated were “out-of-towners.”
A 1924 fair update announced that one of the main attractions of the upcoming fair would be a coon hunt. That event has not been held since then.In October 1986, a new midway was built and stage shows featured bluegrass and music from the 1950’s and 60’s. Poultry from local breeders was shown, but out of state poultry was banned. Due to a poor growing season and early frosts there was a scarcity of fresh flowers at the flower show.
The 1987 fair parade was held despite snow, sleet and mist. There was less canned foods than in previous years attributed to the popularity of freezing fresh vegetables.
In 1988, the fair expanded to 3 days – Saturday thru Monday making it the first three-day fair, a tradition that has continued.
This was a popular event today in the professional lumberjacks competition. Can you figure out what it is?
If axe throwing was your answer, then you’re absolutely right!
Over the years, the number of food vendors has increased.
The number has grown, but not the variety of choices with a lot of the same “foods” being offered and typically called “fair” food.
And, of course, lots of sweet treats.
Lunch today – what’s left of the bloomin’ onion and a sausage sandwich.
Fairs like this one are becoming events of the past in many areas, so it was fun to find and attend this 100+ year old event. We may never attend another Sandwich Fair, but are glad we made it to this one on our NH road trip.