SKOWHEGAN — The smells of fried food wafted across the midway Friday as vendors sold french fries, hot dogs and other delicious items along with lemonade to the few people who had come to the 199th Skowhegan State Fair during the day on Friday.

Some people were on the rides, but some rides stood quiet waiting for riders. The noises of small crowds of people and the rides that were running hinted at the sound of revelry to come as the day became night.

It’s a work day, said Conjuring Carroll Chapman, of Embden, the magician and balloon artist who has been performing at the Skowhegan State Fair for upwards of six years. Though the crowds were small during the day, Conjuring Carroll said they would grow, as they always do at the Skowhegan Fair.

Chapman has been performing magic professionally for 21 years, starting out as a minister. He learned his magic from other magicians. He goes to fairs, schools and libraries all around the state to perform magic and make his balloon creations, promoting the idea that “reading is magic.”

Chapman also campaigns against bullying and teaches his audiences about nutrition and exercise based on the 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! program, a childhood obesity prevention program. The numbers mean five or more fruits and vegetables, two or less hours of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks.

Conjuring Carroll has had good luck at the Skowhegan Fair and said he loves “seeing the kids smile.” However, his show isn’t just for kids. It’s for anyone “from 1 to 101,” he said, with jokes and tricks to make the kids laugh and humor sprinkled throughout just for the adults.


“It’s an audience participation show,” said Chapman on Friday, the balloons he planned on turning into a guitar behind him.

Champman will take to the stage with his rabbit Buster every day at 1:30, 3:30, and 5:30 p.m.

On the fair’s opening day, he said he had a crowd so large it was standing room only for his last show of the night.

At 1:30 on Friday, however, he stood on a stage waiting for an audience, knowing that the real magic this day would make an audience appear at 5:30 p.m.

The fair continues Saturday with exhibition halls opening at noon, tractor pulls and the midway at 1 p.m., wrestling from the North Atlantic Wrestling Association at 3 p.m. and truck pulls at 6:30 p.m.

Gates open at 7 a.m. Admission is $10 and ride bracelets are $17.

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