The Oxford County fair began in 1842 and quickly became one of the most successful attractions in the county. People would travel via horse drawn carriages from Maine and surrounding states for the entertainment and rides the fair had to offer. Even now, the fair is still a major attraction for Oxford County residents. The Oxford County fair originally started as a agricultural based fair which included competitions such as horse racing, animal contests, and even automobile racing starting in the 1920’s. Not only did the fair begin in 1842 but it also originated on the land where they built the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. In 1956, they switched their location to a large piece of property across the street from the Oxford Hannaford Supermarket so that the town could build a bigger and better high school for its community.
There are many events that happen at the Oxford County fair in the few days that it goes on. Some of the big ones include the demolition derby, lawnmower racing, and the pig scramble, where kids can enter a raffle and if their name is drawn, they will have the chance to catch a pig to take home with them. Not only do they have those major events, but they also provide live music and youth agriculture/livestock events that allow the 4-H groups in surrounding areas to showcase their livestock. The fair also takes advantage of their resources by providing an educational day, where local schools can visit the animals and the museum.
The fair has now turned into more of a ride and food based attraction, captivating the attention of local middle and high schoolers. Both the rides and food vendors are all courtesy of the company Smokey’s Greater Shows. The two combined are what have drawn in bigger crowds over the past decade. Though the fair still has its agricultural elements, they aren’t the biggest events that happen anymore. Most people now go to eat fried dough and ride the ferris wheel instead of for the animal showings, though those events are still a crucial part of the fair. An anonymous source stated that the new president of the fair, Floyd Thayer said, “The new management wants to bring the fair back to what it used to be, which is an agricultural county fair. We want to bring it back to its original roots, focusing more on agriculture education and less on entertainment.” Because the fair has changed from agriculture to entertainment, many people feel as though it’s more of an amusement park than a county fair. The new management has made it their personal mission to bring the fair back to what it was when it first began.
With all of these things combined, it’s obvious that the Oxford County fair brings together the community and gives a small town in rural Maine something to do from September 14th-17th. Though it’s steered away from its original agricultural purpose, the fair is a place where people can get together and overall have a good time. It may not be as big as it used to be in the early 1900’s but it is still one of the top fairs in Maine that people from across the state travel to attend. Personally, I have been going to the Oxford County fair for a little more than a decade and though it’s changed a lot throughout the years, it continues to be an excellent attraction to jumpstart the fall season. If you didn’t have the chance to go this year, I would definitely encourage you to go next year!
Categories: Arts & Culture