Monday, October 10, 2011

Good Day for a Fair

fair program1010Temps 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.
fair collage4
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.fair collage3During the summer of 1888, planning started for another October fair. Fancy work, curiosities, grange hallantiques, 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.fair rides collageIn 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. fair veggies collage
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?
axe collage
If axe throwing was your answer, then you’re absolutely right!
axe collage2
Over the years, the number of food vendors has increased.
fried signs collageThe number has grown, but not the variety of choices with a lot of the same “foods” being offered and typically called “fair” food.
sausage-pizza collage
And, of course, lots of sweet treats.
snack sign collageLunch today – what’s left of the bloomin’ onion and a sausage sandwich.
fair food1010 (2)fair food1010
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.


Montanagirl said...

Oh goodness - that looks like such fun...I hope the tradition continues.

Don't unplug your hub said...

We have ridiculous health and safety laws here, which put a stop to fun events such as axe throwing.

Sandra said...

who knew there is a sandwich fair. I love all food that has sandwich in it. i could live on nothing but sandwiches for life. this looks like a great fun place to be.

Out on the prairie said...

A neighbor is always out with the axes.He even got his wife throwing them. I first thought of Dagwood when I saw your title,I am famous for some sandwiches I prepare in the field.

Anvilcloud said...

Fall fairs are a great tradition although we haven't been to one lately.

L. D. Burgus said...

Oh my, what a fun day you must have had. The fried dough, we call funnel cakes, sounded really great.Thanks for sharing the day with us.

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