HARMONY — It may have been a rainy Monday, but that didn’t stop people from having a good time on the last day of the Harmony Free Fair.

The fair, in its 72nd year, is the only in Maine that does not charge an entrance fee. Put on by the Harmony Patriarchs Club, it ran from Friday through Monday. Events ranged from the crowd-favorite kids’ pig scramble to an adult lemonade chugging contest, where contestants had the extra challenge of imbibing the liquid through baby bottles.

Jeff Chadbourne, president of the Harmony Patriarchs Club, said about 10,000-12,000 people stopped by the fairgrounds at some point this weekend, and that about 300 showed up Monday. The low attendance on Labor Day was good news for many of the kids in the crowd, who had entered a raffle to win one of 30 bicycles. Winners had to be present to claim their prizes.

“That’s why we’re here,” said Linda Corson, of Cornville, who was waiting out the rain with her grandson, Tucker, under the roof of the food pavilion Monday afternoon. “He asked me this morning, ‘Is the bike going to fit in the back seat?’ I said ‘You’ve got to win it first.'”

Tucker, 7, did end up leaving the fair with a new set of wheels, after Chadbourne pulled his name from the raffle bucket about an hour later. Winners could be seen testing out their new rides on the muddy fairgrounds Monday afternoon.

Mel Chadbourne, who has volunteered at the fair for 23 years and is married to Jeff Chadbourne, said that the rainy weather led a handful of events to be canceled Monday.

“Friday, Saturday and Sunday were wonderful,” Mel Chadbourne said. “But as one would expect with the rain, we canceled the parade, the tractor rodeo, the women’s skillet throw, the men’s hammer throw, one of the bands and (some other things).”

Jeff Chadbourne said that at the same time, several new events and demonstrations were added this year. There was a blacksmith demonstration as well as a wood carving demonstration, both of which were first-time offerings at the fair.

“It’s a nice, family-oriented country fair,” he noted. “Monday’s usually our big day, but we’ll be here again next year.”

Members of the Dowdy family, from Unity, said that they went all weekend, rain or shine, and have enjoyed going to the fair for many years.

Mel Chadbourne noted that it is important to her that the Labor Day weekend festivities and livestock exhibitions continue to remain accessible to the public in years to come.

“We absolutely will not (charge an entry fee),” she said. “Not as we can maintain it. This is a poor county. Many people say it’s the only fair they can attend all year. It’s important to keep it — and also so we can continue agricultural education because sadly, we’re losing that.”

The only events that were not free were the Truck Pull, which opened the fair Friday night with admission set to $3 per person; the Demolition Derby, which took place Saturday afternoon and cost $5 apiece; and the pig scrambles on Sunday, which cost $3 to enter. The proceeds go toward fairgrounds improvements and to local schools.

Harmony, located in Somerset County, has a population of about 900, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


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