The annual Pittston Fair, a tradition that started more than 60 years ago, begins Thursday with several new events and activities but with one missing piece of the fair’s history.

This weekend’s fair is the first since longtime volunteer and groundskeeper Lewis “Duddy” Brown was struck by a car and killed while crossing the street near his home in November.

Brown, 83, served on the Pittston Fair Association board of directors and was a past president. He had been involved with the fair since its inception in the 1950s, and his most recent involvement was keeping the fairgrounds grass neatly mowed.

Pete Weeks, the fair association vice president, said the organization had five mowers who mowed the entire grounds. Volunteers also painted 10 picnic tables dedicated to Brown, who also was a Pittston firefighter from 1962 to 2013 and was fire chief from 1985 to 1991.

Weeks said mutton busting and a grilling contest are the two new events happening at the fair. Mutton busting is like a rodeo, but instead of adults riding bulls, children will be riding sheep.

“We’re always trying to do something different to keep people interested,” Weeks said. “The people that owned the sheep approached us with the idea.”

There will be between 15 to 20 sheep, Weeks said, and children ages 6 to 8 sit atop them and try to stay on for as long as possible. Children are required to wear protective gear including helmets, elbow pads and knee pads, and sheep are rotated in and out so the animals don’t get tired.

“(I don’t) know what’s a good amount of time to ride a sheep,” Weeks said. “That’s a hard question.”

The new grilling contest, which is just what its name suggests, begins at noon Saturday and is another way to keep the fair interesting, Weeks said.

Eight thousand to 10,000 people typically attend the fair each year, Weeks said, and attendance is largely based on the weather.

“The weather looks good for this weekend, which means we’ll have good attendance,” he said.

One of the other highlights of the weekend is the Friday night fireworks display by Central Maine Pyrotechnics. Owner Steve Marson lost his wife, Carole, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in March, and she was a big fan of the fair, Weeks said, so the fireworks show will be special.

“(Steve) told me they’ll fill the sky with enough sparks to wake her up in heaven,” Weeks said.

Another new wrinkle at this year’s fair is that any child who catches a pig during the scramble will receive a $30 cash prize.

The fair begins with Agricultural Day on Thursday with free admission for seniors over 60, children under 14 and veterans. Admission for the rest of the weekend is $6 for anyone over 15, and children 14 and under are admitted free with an adult.

Gates open each morning at 8 a.m. The Pittston Fairgrounds are at 995 East Pittston Road.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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