Sitting at the judges’ booth, Jesse Barton, left, times Logan Robinson as he and his team compete in the scooting contest, in which horses pull a sled with rider and log through a course, on July 26, 2019, at the Pittston Fairgrounds. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

PITTSTON — In less than two weeks, the scent of strawberries and fairground French fries will fill the air as the Pittston Fair returns.

The fair was canceled last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic but is scheduled to be back from July 22 to 25 at the Pittston Fairgrounds, 995 E. Pittston Road.

“We are a family,” Kim Alley-Pelletier, secretary of the Pittston Fair Association, said. “We did miss it last year.”

Alley-Pelletier said the association’s team of volunteers has worked hard to bring back the fair, including revamping the strawberry museum to be more agriculturally focused and adding new prizes for fairgoers to win.

Most volunteers from previous years are back, Alley-Pelletier said, and have dedicated much time to reopening the fair for this year. She said volunteers usually come back every year and know where to pick up where they had left off.

“It’s a lot of work,” Alley-Pelletier said, “but it’s rewarding on our end.”

New this year is a driver’s education giveaway for age-eligible teenagers, and all fairgoers might be able to make their own strawberry shortcake at the strawberry museum, according to Alley-Pelletier.

Planning for this year’s fair picked up where it left off last year before the coronavirus pandemic, according to organizers.

Beginning in March, the Pittston Fair Association met biweekly to ensure the fair would run smoothly, and planning was done in accordance with state coronavirus guidelines. With the statewide mask mandate lifted and public safety guidelines softened, including those for social distancing and hand sanitizing, will still be encouraged but not required.

Alley-Pelletier said the volunteers will clean tables frequently, too.

The fair association is expecting a larger crowd this year, similar to how people in record numbers turned out for the Monmouth Fair.

“We have a small town, and that helps,” Alley-Pelletier said. “We are hoping we see a lot of families and to come in, enjoy the fun and get back to normal.”

Alley-Pelletier said Sunday at the fair is known as “Children’s Day.”

Sunday has activities for all ages, including a baby contest at 11 a.m. and bike raffle in the afternoon. At 4:30 p.m., there is a strawberry pageant coronation, at which girls from 5 to 20 compete for a title of either “Blossom,” “Princess” or “Queen.” The driver’s education raffles are planned for Saturday and Sunday.

Kirk Corum, left, and Luna Johns pet goats July 26, 2019, at the Pittston Fairgrounds. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

A variety of activities are planned for Saturday, including a chowder cookoff and tractor pull. Fireworks are planned for Friday.

“There’s always something fun to see,” Alley-Pelletier said. “I think the exhibition hall is a great place to go. There’s a lot of local talent and quilts and photography. There is something for everyone.”

Mostly, though, Alley-Pelletier and her team are excited to see fairgoers again.

“I get to see people I haven’t seen all year, and I haven’t seen some people in a year,” she said. “I’m excited to see the kid’s faces when they win the bikes and to eat fried dough. I can’t wait.”

The Pittston Fair is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 22, through the evening of Sunday, July 25.

Admission is free for seniors, veterans and children 12 or younger. Admission for those 13 or older is $8.

A full list of events is available on the fair’s website.

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