Country fairs

Many of New England’s country fairs were established in the 19th century by agricultural societies, and though they now do offer fried dough and rides on the Tilt-a-Whirl and opportunities to win a SpongeBob Squarepants doll by tossing darts at a wall full of balloons, they also retain much of their former emphasis on agriculture, including ox-pull and horse-pull competitions, barns full of sheep and goats, exhibition halls full of giant pumpkins, prize pies, and so on.

Northern Maine Fair, Presque Isle, Maine  Established 1851. Late July to early August; website here.

Bangor State Fair, Bangor, ME  Late July to early August; website here.

Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME  Put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association since 1977, this is a unique fair with what one can only describe as a crunchy vibe. Late September; website here.

Union Fair, Union, ME  Founded in 1869 by the North Knox Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Late August; website here.

Farmington Fair, Farmington, ME  Founded in 1840. Mid-September; website here.

Skowhegan State Fair, Skowhegan, ME  Founded in 1818, it’s touted as the nation’s oldest continuously run agricultural fair. Early August; website here.

Fryeburg Fair, Fryeburg, ME  One of the largest fairs in New England, founded in 1851 by the West Oxford Agricultural Society. Late September to Early October; website here.

Ossipee Valley Fair, South Hiram, ME  A very recently-established fair, founded in 1980 by the Ossipee Valley Agricultural Society.  Early to mid-July; website here.

Lancaster Fair, Lancaster, NH  Founded in 1870. Late August to early September; website here.

Sandwich Fair, Sandwich, NH  Founded in 1886. Early October; website here.

North Haverhill Fair, Haverhill, NH  In addition to horse and ox-pull competitions, they do cater to more modern tastes with demolition derbies and tractor pulls. Late July; website here.

Hopkinton State Fair, Contocook, NH  Founded in 1915. Late August to Early September; Facebook page here.

Deerfield Fair, Deerfield, NH  Founded in the 1870s. Late September; website here.

Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair, New Boston, NH  Founded in 1958. Early September; website here.

Cheshire Fair, Swanzey, NH  Late July to early August; website here.

Stratham Fair, Stratham, NH  A small fair founded in 1966. Late July; website here.

Rochester Fair, Rochester, NH  Mid-September. Founded in the 1870s, its greatest attraction is its school-bus demolition derby.

Tunbridge World’s Fair, Tunbridge, VT  Founded in the 1860s, and later put under the auspices of the Union Agricultural Society. Early September; website here.

Bondville Fair, Bondville, VT  They tout themselves as Vermont’s oldest continuously existing fair, having been founded in 1797. Late August; website here.

Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA  Founded in 1820 by the Essex Agricultural Society. Early October; website here.

Cummington Fair, Cummington, MA  Founded in 1883 under the auspices of the Hillside Agricultural Society. Late August; website here.

Three County Fair, Northampton, MA  Founded in 1818, this is another contender for the title of America’s longest-running agricultural fair. Late August to early September; website here.

Belchertown Fair, Belchertown, MA  A small fair, mostly rides and crafts, but they do still have horse and ox pulling competitions. Late September; website here.

The Big E, West Springfield, MA  As its name implies, the Big E is a big fair. Late September; website here.

Barnstable County Fair, East Falmouth, MA  Founded 1844 by the Barnstable County Agricultural Society. Late July; website here.

Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair, West Tisbury, MA  Founded 1858 by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society. Mid-August; website here.

Brooklyn Fair, Brooklyn, CT  Late August; website here.

North Stonington Fair, North Stonington, CT  Founded in the early 20th century under the auspices of the local Grange. Mid-July; website here.

Eastern Rhode Island 4-H Country Fair, Portsmouth, RI  Founded only in 1968, it’s one of the newer ones. Website here.


About Peter Chipman

I'm a lexicographer, an editor, and a lover of language and literature. Also a proud father of two, an occasional bell-ringer, a thirteenth-generation New England Yankee, a former owner of a one-room schoolhouse, and the current owner of a 220-year-old farmhouse.
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