SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan State Fair is all about circles.

Rides go in circles, the fair circuit runs in a big loop around Maine all summer, wrestling matches are scheduled for the squared circle every day and harness racing hits the circular track for daytime racing only this year.

The 198th annual state fair, the longest continually operating agricultural fair in the country, opens Thursday for 10 days of fun, food and Fiesta Shows — the company that operates the midway.

Gene Dean, president and CEO of Fiesta Shows, said the midway is offering two new thrill rides to this year’s fair — The Trabant and The Surfer.

“All rides go round and round and they just go in different motions, really,” Dean said Tuesday. “Some go like a Ferris Wheel. It’s amazing that over the years how many circles the engineers have invented — different types of circles, but basically all revolving rides go in a circle. It’s pretty hard to travel in a square.”

Dean said the Trabant thrill ride “gets up and oscillates almost like a spinning half dollar.”


“The Surfer has a large air compressor and it pops up and down. You are going in a circle, but at the same time that circle pops up and down,” he said.

The midway also will feature a “big giant” wheel along with some new kiddie rides.

The midway opens daily at 1 p.m. On Thursday — the fair’s opening day — admission costs $2 and an all-day ride bracelet is $12. Gate admission costs $10 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday and $8 on the other days. Ride bracelets cost $17 on Saturdays and Sunday and $15 all other days.

Dean, 74, said he has been coming to the Skowhegan fair since the early 1950s with his father and King Reid Shows.

“I think Skowhegan has a great, great facility. They have a fantastic physical plant here and do a great job,” he said. “The exhibits continue to grow. There’s a very strong carnival tradition in Maine.”

This year’s fair features three nights of demolition derby — Friday, Monday and Friday, Aug. 19 — truck and tractor pulls, horse pulling and the Rave X Outer Limits freestyle motorbike shows Tuesday, Aug. 16, through Thursday, Aug. 18. The Kennebec Valley Woodsmen Championship is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday in the Coliseum. Daily exhibits include a children’s barnyard, a new rabbit exhibit, 4-H shows, a crafters’ corner, live music and bingo games.


Stan McGray, who runs Stan’s French Fries at the fair, said he helped organize the Independent Wrestling Entertainment shows each day, live in front of the bingo hall. McGray said the shows originate in Brewer.

“The Skowhegan Fair wanted to bring them here, and I talked to people and got them here for the fair,” he said. “I got them here last year, and they liked it and it drew a big crowd. They wanted them back this year. This is the second year. Maine loves wrestling.”

Skowhegan Fair Vice President Melvin Blaisdell said the fair committee built two buildings for the fair this year. One is a large maple sugar house, with demonstrations of how the sweet Maine product is made; the other is a new site for the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

“A bunch of the guys who do maple syrup have an organization and said they would display their stuff and will have a big evaporator in there,” Blaisdell said of the first new building. “It’s a big green building right by the park where they have live music.”

Blaisdell said last year was a good year at the fair.

“We didn’t have much rain,” he said, noting this year’s near-drought conditions. “We did roughly 80,000 people through the gates. All I hear is we need rain, but we don’t need it for two more weeks.”


Blaisdell added that the fair committee decided to go with day harness racing this year. Post time is 1 p.m.

“No more night racing,” he said. “Harness racing will all be in the afternoon starting Sunday for seven days. We’ll have shows at night in front of the grandstand, on the race track. That should be a big draw for the crowds — something going on every day and every night.”

He said on Thursday night the big show will be Barnyard All Terrain, a mega-truck show from Livermore Falls in front of the grandstand.

Other features at the fair include exhibition halls for local produce and homemade products, working horse and steer shows, G-Force Laser Tag, shows by Conjuring Carol, antique power equipment, Longaberger Basket exhibits, an art show and a 4-H Day parade at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Monday is Senior Citizen Day, when anyone 62 or older gets in for $4.

Gates open daily at 7 a.m. Exhibition halls open at noon and the midway opens at 1 p.m.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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