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Lots To Do And See At The Sandwich Fair

Christine Randall - October 7, 2013

Sandwich Fair

White oxen at the Sandwich Fair.

Columbus Day Weekend is almost upon us and with it comes New Hampshire’s final agricultural fair of the season, the Sandwich Fair. The Sandwich Fair, which is celebrating its 103rd season, takes place on the fairgrounds in Center Sandwich on Oct. 12-14. As in years past, there will be free admission to the fairgrounds for a special Friday night carnival ride preview with a fixed price for all rides on Friday, Oct. 11, from 4 to 9 p.m,, but no exhibits will be open.

The Sandwich Fair is a very popular traditional agricultural fair that draws tens of thousands through the gates every year. “I think that the biggest reason the Sandwich Fair is so popular is the time of year,” says Dan Peaslee, president of the Sandwich Fair Association. “The fall foliage is near or at its peak, and it is the last agricultural fair in the state.

“Also, many people who attend are up in the area closing up summer homes and cottages for the winter. We attracted about 30,000 people over the course of the three days last year, which is usually what we average, although we’ve had up to about 45,000 people in recent years.”

Dan notes that about two-thirds of the fair activities are agricultural in nature, while only about one-third of the fair is set aside for carnival concessions, shows, and rides. “This area is noted for its agriculture, and we’ve tried hard to keep this mostly an agricultural fair.”

The price of admission allows fairgoers access to all exhibits, demonstrations, and shows. “You can spend a whole day looking at crafts and animal exhibits and not have to spend additional money every time you turn around,” says Dan, “with the exception of the carnival rides and food.” He estimates that the number of vendor displays, concession stands, and exhibits gives a visitor about 450 things to look at, watch, and enjoy at the Sandwich Fair.

According to Dan, two of the most popular events during the three-day fair are the antique car parade on Saturday and the Grand Street Parade on Sunday. “Both of these parades are a huge draw, and they are both free,” says Dan.

As in years past, a restored Concord Coach will lead the traditional Grand Street Parade. The parade theme this year will be “Celebrating 250 Years of Sandwich History” in recognition of the town’s 250th anniversary. The Sandwich Historical Society will have an exhibit about the 250th anniversary.

There are plenty of other activities at the Sandwich Fair, with musical groups, tractor pulls, oxen pulls, animal exhibits and competitions, petting zoos, crafts, displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, honey and baked goods, canned items, photography displays, fun competitions, and, of course, the midway, plus all the fair food you might want to indulge in.

One returning competition which I’ve always found pretty amusing (and possibly dangerous to viewers) is the skillet throw where women line up to throw an iron skillet as far down the course as they can. Prizes are awarded for the farthest throw (I wonder if prizes are also awarded to by-standers who duck the fastest?).

A new exhibit this year will feature small pigs called “Kumekume” pigs which Dan explains are said to be great as household pets, as they are small and don’t root up your yard, preferring instead to graze. “We will have a petting and display exhibit of the Kumekume pigs,” says Dan, who adds that the breeder, who anticipates having a litter of pigs available in December, will be on hand to accept advance orders.

Stage performances include several musical groups, such as the versatile Art Harriman, who will close out each day with a one-man show at 4 p.m. (4:30 on Sunday), plus a group called “Swing-A-Cat,” which, contrary to what you might imagine, does not involve swinging around live cats. Several other musical groups, including “Rick Adams” and the “Bel Airs”, will also perform.

Also, there will be daily performances by a sword-swallower as well as a ventriloquist, dog shows, a demonstration from a chainsaw carver, a scavenger hunt for children, and entertainment from Mo the Clown.

Parking is free at two satellite parking lots with free shuttle service to the fairgrounds. On each of the three days, the gates, midway, farmer’s market, craft building, and concession stands will be opening at 8 a.m., while the exhibits open at 9 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 12, is Children’s Day, featuring a one-price ride special until 2 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, the exhibit buildings close at 6 p.m., but midway rides will still be available through the early evening. On Monday, Oct. 14, Art Harriman will give his final Sandwich Fair performance for the weekend at 4 p.m., and the exhibit buildings close at 5.

There is reduced-price admission for children ages 8 – 12, with children 7 and under admitted free. The midway rides, carnival activities and games, and vendor concessions are extra.

The Sandwich Fairgrounds are located at 7 Wentworth Hill Road (junction of Routes 109 and 113) in Center Sandwich. For more information, see or call the fair offices at 603-284-7062. 

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