MONMOUTH — The small-town feel and the connection of community brought the Danville Junction Grange 65 from Auburn back to the Monmouth Fair for its second year.

Alisha Targonski sets up a display in the 4H area inside Cochnewagen Hall on Wednesday at the Monmouth Fairgrounds. The fair opens Thursday and runs through the weekend. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“Just like in a small town, everybody works together (to organize this fair),” Granger Cynthia Maxwell said.

Maxwell was in her socks, climbing the display of the Grange’s booth to hang art and arrange the display with the help of Shirley Hatch and Norma Meserve. Their exhibit featured canned goods, crafts, dried flowers and herbs, art and other items created by around 30 of their Grangers.

The Monmouth Fair now will start the agricultural fair season when it opens Thursday.

“We’ll have more of a lot of good things,” said Phil Butterfield, president of the Cochnewagon Agricultural Association, the organization that puts on the fair.

Fairgoers can look forward to “modern throw rides we didn’t have before,” Butterfield said.

The fair used to be held the first weekend in August, when 11 of the state’s 25 agricultural fairs occurred.

The date change gave the fair a chance to contract a new midway, Smokey’s Greater Shows, which Butterfield thinks will attract younger generations, and the return of the Woodman’s Day on Saturday.

“We feel like there are new and more things going on with every aspect of the fair so everyone will get to experience,” Butterfield said, but he said he has found feedback to be positive.

Friday will bring in Twisted Roots truck demonstrations along with a mini-horse pull; Saturday, the Redneck Truck Pull; and, Sunday, the Maine Antique Tractor Pull and Backseat Drivers Contest.

People who are there for the agricultural part will see increased activity.

“The focus will be more on agricultural experiences where people can get up close and have a better understanding and generate interest,” Butterfield said.

Gary Buzzell has been volunteering for the fair for more than 20 years, and he runs the antiques exhibit, where visitors will see antique motorcycles, a blacksmith forge and even an Erikson hot-air engine made in 1895.

The hall used to hold rabbits and chickens, he said, but interest in that kind of livestock declined, and the shed was repurposed.

“We were given a large donation of antique chain saws,” he said, “and the collection began.”

Buzzell said he owns the bulk of the equipment on display, and Wednesday he was moving the antique equipment into the exhibit hall. Eventually he hopes the exhibition hall will be able to display more.

Ice cream churned nightly in an antique ice cream maker will be served at the antiques exhibit for children.

Now a Greene resident, Buzzell grew up in Monmouth and remembers the days of going across the street to the fair, and he sees the date change as a benefit to the community.

Gary Buzzell, left, and Joy Buzzell set up the frame for a canopy outside the museum Wednesday at the Monmouth Fairgrounds. The fair opens Thursday and runs through the weekend. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

The earlier fair will mean cooler weather than the heat August traditionally generates — and if the weather is wet, Butterfield isn’t worried.

“We’ve been dealt every adverse weather condition in the 100-plus years of the fair,” he said. “We can adjust on the fly to produce as much of the fair as we can under the conditions we are dealt.”

 


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