Carter Clark, 7, of Clinton milks the mechanical cow Saturday as he prepares for a life of dairy farming at the Clinton Fair. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

CLINTON — The annual Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair returned this week for its 70th year, with thousands coming out to enjoy the food, family-oriented activities and mechanical and animal pulls.

Organized by the Clinton Lions Club, the fair kicked off on Thursday at the Clinton Fairgrounds at 1450 Bangor Road and concludes its run on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The fair drew record crowds this year, said fair President Belinda Stoughton. Stoughton didn’t have specific attendance numbers handy Saturday, but said that some new events this year — a demolition derby and a hammer and frying pan tossing competition — contributed to the fair’s growth. Over 2,500 people packed the stands to watch the derby on Thursday night, she said.

Of course, familiar favorites such as the lively street parade in downtown Clinton (during which Lawrence High School’s marching band gave a spirited rendition of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’), antique tractor pulls, the pig scramble and midway rides, continue to draw large numbers to the fairgrounds, too.

“We’re trying to grow, adding things that don’t cost,” said Stoughton.

Though the fair continues to expand, attracting bigger crowds each year, Stoughton said its purpose — educating young people about the importance of agriculture and community — has stayed true.


Victoria Wright, 7, of Clinton feeds her rabbit, Rocky, Saturday at the Clinton Fair. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“We’re the dairy capital of Maine, but we have more cows than people in this town,” Stoughton said. “We’re trying to give these kids an opportunity to learn.”

At the heart of the festival, an island from the noise of the mechanical pulls and fair games, is a large, white tent where the fair’s educational activities are headquartered. There, children can interact with and learn about farm animals including cows, sheep, rabbits and chickens. There’s even a mechanical cow that kids can try milking.

Carter Clark, 7, comes every year to do just that. The second grader from Clinton said that as soon as he gets his driving license, he wants to be a dairy farmer over at the nearby Flood Brothers Farm (while staying in school).

Carter said that he’s the only one of his friends who wants to be a farmer. He has always wanted to work with cows, “because they’re cute,” he said, but a field trip to a dairy farm in kindergarten really cemented his goal.

A team of oxen walk through the arena after a pull competition Saturday at the Clinton Fair. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

His mother, Elizabeth Clark, who is a teacher working in Skowhegan, said that her son eats breakfast outside every day to watch the farm choppers go by each morning.

“It’s all he’s ever wanted to do,” Clark said Saturday. “He’s a perfect Clinton boy. He’s always loved cows.”

Stoughton said that the purpose of the fair is not just about encouraging kids like Carter to think about farming as a career. Rather, she hopes young people in central Maine are more conscientious upon leaving the fair, that they think about where their meat and dairy products come from and get involved in their local community as volunteers.

The Clinton Fair’s last day, Sunday, will be Military Appreciation Day, so those with a Military I.D. will be able to get into the fair for $5. The day will be jam-packed with events like animal and tractor pulling, a horse show, a charity auction giving away blueberry and apple pies and a “baby show.”

Gate admission is $8, but children under 12 go free. Ride bracelets are $25.

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