FARMINGTON — At 175 years old, the Farmington Fair may not be the oldest agricultural fair in the state — the Skowhegan State Fair has been running continuously for 197 years — but it’s one of the friendliest.

The fair, which opened Sunday and runs through Sept. 26, is a sprawling family affair on 58 acres, with old wooden grandstands and exhibition halls painted yellow and lines of local concession stands and trailers offering Bible stories, face painting, deep fried pecan pie, fried dough, Thai food and “home cookin” along with commercial concessions and rides on the large midway operated by Smokey’s Greater Shows.

Along the local food route at the Farmington Fair is Nancy Guptill, of Mechanic Falls, and her Belly Busters food cart, offering meatball subs, corndogs, hamburgers and specialty foods. She said she’s been here for only about eight years, but her husband, Roger Guptill, whose family runs all the parking at the fair, has been here ever since she can remember.

“My husband Roger grew up in Wilton, and his family has done the parking forever — a very, very long time,” she said. “At Belly Busters we do specialty appetizers as our niche, like deep fried macaroni and cheese and sweet potato fries and deep fried pickles — unique items — and the staples as well. We asked one of our vendors to find us a name, and he came back and said ‘Belly Busters,’ and I said, ‘Eat so much you’ll bust your belly,’ and it stuck.”

Patrick Brophy, of Freeport, was at the fair Sunday with his 2-year-old daughter, pregnant wife, her mother and her grandmother — four generations having family fun at the Farmington Fair.

Ally Brophy, who is due to give birth by the end of this week, said her mother, Karen West, and her grandmother, Joanne Smith of Farmington, have been coming to the fair every September since Ally was little.

“It’s the best fair in Maine,” West said from the midway. “Absolutely. The agricultural parts of the fair are our favorite things — all the animals and the petting zoo.”

Patrick Brophy added that the reason he likes the Farmington Fair is simple: “I come here for the food,” he said.

Over at the fair office on the midway, Glenda Barker, a fair director, and Neil Yeaton, the fair secretary, said Farmington is popular with families because people are friendly.

“They like the fancy work in the exhibition hall — the quilts, the crocheting and knitting — the animal shows and just the friendly atmosphere,” Yeaton said, adding Farmington is more like the old time country fairs than most of the other fairs in Maine.

Barker agreed, noting she went to the Skowhegan Fair twice this year.

“As far as I’m concerned, Farmington is much better,” she said, noting she and her family went to the Skowhegan Fair as she was growing up in Rome. “I think we have more going on than Skowhegan does — the animals, the midway’s good and we have a lot of local vendors.”

The fair continues Monday, which is Agricultural Education Day. The 4-H horse show is set for 9 a.m. in the show ring, followed by the opening of Western Maine Blacksmiths at the fairgrounds museum from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The midway from Smokey’s Greater Shows opens at 2 p.m. with ride specials 5-10 p.m. Monday. Harness racing and parimutuel wagering begins at 2 p.m.

Admission to the fair costs $6. Tickets for children ages 8-11 cost $2 with children 7 and under getting in free. People 62 and older pay $2 at the gate on Tuesday and Thursday. Parking costs $3.

There will be exhibits by Western Maine Beekeepers daily. Post times for harness racing is 2 p.m. daily.

The fair runs through Saturday, ending with the popular demolition derby in the large grandstand at 7 p.m.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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