PITTSTON — Tod Lavoie has been to the Pittston Fair every year for as long as he can remember. It became a tradition with his parents that Lavoie now carries on with his own children.

And so it was Sunday afternoon that the Pittston native, who never found a reason to leave, watched in amusement as his daughters prodded their entries in the frog jumping contest, before moving to the pie eating contest and then the penny diving contest, in which children tried to find pennies in a large pile of wood shavings.

“It keeps them out of mischief,” Lavoie said.

The town’s annual fair celebrated its 60th birthday in style over the weekend and it had plenty of old friends like Lavoie — not to mention a heap of new ones — to help.

Fair Secretary Sharon Fairfield said Sunday that added entertainment and spectacular weather helped make this year’s fair one to remember.

“The fair has done tremendously well this year,” she said. “This year we’re surpassing what we expected.”

Final numbers were unavailable Sunday, but Fairfield said there was a noticeable increase in traffic passing through the entry gates. The jump was particularly noticeable in light of last year when, according to Fairfield, hot, muggy weather took a toll on attendance.

With temperatures in the 70’s this year and just scattered raindrops to dodge, there was nothing to keep people from showing up. And, with a bigger fireworks show to celebrate the fair’s sixth decade, the reinstatement of the demolition derby after a several-year hiatus, not to mention additional exhibits, the fair had more than ever to offer, Fairfield said. Families were especially drawn by the bicycle give-away, she said. The fair handed out bicycles to a record 90 children ages 3 to 14.

“We have so many people because we have such a tremendous bike giveaway,” Fairfield said.

The fair maintains its heritage by holding onto treasured events, like the pig scramble. One of Lavoie’s daughters won a pig on Friday and then was given another. His children are carrying on the tradition Lavoie started when he was young and won pigs for his family. Like his parents, Lavoie said his children would raise the pigs to be butchered.

“The kids will raise them and they sit down and say, ‘Which one are we eating tonight?'” Lavoie said, grinning.

Lavoie said the fair suffered a few down years during the 1980’s, but has bounced back well with new buildings, new exhibits and new events over the past several years. Lavoie said the improvements were thanks to a cadre of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to build up the facilities and the fair itself. Some of them Lavoie knows have even taken vacations from their regular jobs to make improvements at the fairgrounds.

“Most vacations you want to sit back and relax, but they don’t do that,” Lavoie said. “They come out and work.”

Fairfield said about 100 people volunteer at the fair at least sporadically, but there is a core of about 40 people that are dedicated to the fair throughout the weekend.

“They slave over a hot stove, in the heat, man the puling rings,” she said. “Everyone is a volunteer. We have not a huge number of people that do a lot of work.”

Animals, working and on exhibit, remained a fair centerpiece. There was no shortage of sheep, horses and cows.

Otto and Pat Hunt, who help put on the Union Fair beginning Aug. 18, took in a steer and oxen show Sunday afternoon. The couple have attended each Pittston Fair for more than a decade.

“It’s a chance to get out and see the animals,” Otto Hunt said.

Pat Hunt said they also get a chance to see new performers or animal handlers that they might want to invite to Union.

“It’s a chance to socialize, too,” she said.

Vicki Huff of Hollis looked on as her cousin, Julie Giles of Standish, showed her two Chianina Oxen, which tipped the scale just below the 3,500-pound maximum.

“It’s definitely a point of pride to show them and show them well,” Huff said.

Fair organizers have that same sort of pride for the fair as a whole, Fairfield said. Organizers are already looking at what worked well this year, and what could have improved, with an eye toward making next year even better. The number of people who enjoyed Pittston Fair 2012 give the volunteers even greater incentive.

“It gives us that real push of adrenaline to keep going for another year,” Fairfield said. “We’re going to try to make it even better.”

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