The glow of carnival rides is vivid Thursday against the night sky over Mill Park in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — When Dot Grady learned on Facebook about the Kickoff to Fall Fair at Mill Park, she knew she would be taking her grandchildren.

The four-day event that wrapped up Sunday brought all the sights, sounds and smells of the midway, as scores of people who gathered under the moody autumn sky scoped out the food, games and rides.

Grady watched as her granddaughter, Brianne, 8, rode the Air Time, while Ciaran, 4, watched from nearby with his father because the boy was not tall enough to go on the ride.

Around them, families, couples and groups of teens milled about the temporary fairground, picking what they wanted to try next, serenaded by those brave enough to try the karaoke tent.

They were tempted by rides with names like Hurricane, Zipper, Trabant and Scrambler from Smokey’s Greater Shows, along with fair staples, including the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel, offering the chance to slide, spin, rotate or revolve for the price of a ticket.

For those who wanted to test their skills, about a dozen ring toss and shooting games offered opportunities to win stuffed animals or inflated toys.


Appetites were welcome to try fair food — from cotton candy to pizza and fried chicken to ice cream — from nearly a dozen vendors.

Grady, who came over the Kennebec River from Chelsea, had her eye on French fries with vinegar, and her granddaughter wanted to try the fried dough during they afternoon they  planned to spend at the fair.

“It’s fabulous,” Grady said.

While central Maine hosts more than a half-dozen agricultural fairs from June through September, Grady said she likes the smaller size of the Augusta fair because it is easier to get around and watch “the littles” — and it is good for the community.

The fair, which straddles the line between summer and autumn, has drawn a lot of response, according to Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.

The downtown organization worked with Augusta Parks and Recreation, with support from sponsors, including J.S. McCarthy Printers, KV Federal Credit Union and Townsquare Media, 92 Moose and  B98.5, to bring the fair back to Maine’s capital city.


“The response online has just really, really been very positive and has blown up a lot,” Hall said, noting a post put up before the start of the fair reached 30,000 people. “People seem to be very, very excited about this and glad that it’s back.”

The fair serves as a lead-in to fall and Trick or Treat on Water Street on Oct. 28, he said.

Plans to hold the fair earlier this year fell through when the date conflicted with the 2023 Maine Moose Permit Lottery, a day of activities held in conjunction with the drawing of the names of winners of moose hunting permits.

Grady said the delay did not bother her in the least.

“If they care, I prefer the fall because it’s better weather,” she said. “It’s not as hot and humid.”

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