CLINTON — The 63rd Lions Agricultural Fair isn’t going to be the same this year, Marlene Carpenter said.

The fair will be missing one of its cornerstones: Bob Elston, born Robert L. Wincapaw, the front man of the Road Ranger Band.

Elston, died on March 20 at the age of 76 after battling bone cancer coupled with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said Carpenter, his wife.

“Everybody loved Bob,” she said on the phone Thursday. “He was a great entertainer.”

Elston and Carpenter, who lived in Clinton, performed in the band together for 50 years and were married for 48. It’s still hard, even though five months have passed since Elston died, she said.

When the band performed Sunday at Broken Acres Recreational Park in Jefferson, it was the first time they had done so since Elston died. The park, where they’d played many times before, donated the venue; and the Maine Academy of Country Music, which Elston helped create, sponsored the event.

The performance was a “celebration of his life,” Carpenter said, and provided closure for the many musicians who attended the event in Elston’s honor.

She hopes that the band can provide the same kind of closure to the community of Clinton, where they’ve played at the Lions Agricultural Fair for about 20 years. They plan to return to the fair on Friday for two shows, at 2 and 4 p.m.

“It’s gonna be sad in a way, but it’ll be a really nice tribute to Bob,” Carpenter said. “He certainly deserved it.”

Carpenter will perform along with her son, Jeff Clark, and the Road Ranger Band: Fred Thompson on steel guitar, Chris Fyfe on keyboard, Doug Matthews on bass, Burt Hoppler on drums and John Whitman as the front man.

Carpenter and Elston also have another son, Glenn Curless Clark, who doesn’t perform with the band.

Jon Whitten Sr., the assistant fair secretary, said he’s looking forward to the band’s return and he thinks it will be a nice thing for those who go to the fair every year and have enjoyed Elston’s music. He was a country music legend, Whitten said, and was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

The fair will open at 3 p.m. Thursday at 1450 Bangor Road, and rides and exhibits open at 4:30 p.m.

One of the exhibits this year is a recently discovered mural painted by a Clinton artist. The mural was discovered three years ago in Gorham when someone was cleaning out their parent’s home. It’s 16 feet long, Whitten said, and impressive. It depicts the history of the United States. The artist was Clinton resident Viva Chamberlain, who lived past 100 and taught painting well into her 90s, Whitten said.

On Friday, which is senior citizens’ day, the 16th annual Woodsmen Day events begin at 11 a.m. Woodsmen from across New England and Canada come to Clinton to compete in log rolling, tree felling, axe throwing and more. The grand prize this year is $150. There will also be a fireworks celebration at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, the annual street parade will start at 10 a.m. in the downtown area. There will also be truck and tractor pulling at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., with a number of exhibitors from Canada. Whitten said mechanical pulling is one of the largest events that they put on. A few pulling shows are held each day of the fair, he said.

The fair also will feature mutton busting, or sheep riding, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, again this year, Whitten said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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