The Fryeburg Fair has been going on since 1851. It’s an 8 day event held during the first week in October. It typically attracts over 300,000 attendees. The fairgrounds cover 185 acres. Not as big as the Texas State Fair but by Maine standards it’s huge.
As a former Mainah (Maine lingo for a Maine resident), I enjoy going to fairs. I like walking around, seeing the animals, watching competitions, and sampling the food. I hadn’t been to a fair for several years. With my short trip MO for this fall, I decided that a nice short fall trip would be to head up to Maine for a few days to attend the Fryeburg Fair.
The fairground has two on site campgrounds that have spots for 3,000 RV’s. In late September, I called up the fair office and snagged a spot for three days during the mid-week. It worked out to be the perfect time to take in what the fair has to offer.
The Fryeburg Fair has numerous competitions. There’s truck pulls, lumberjack events, a pig scramble, a fireman’s muster, horse pulling, hitching competitions, and oxen pulling just to name a few. There’s also animal judging for just about every type of farm animal you can think of.
These competitions are serious business for Maine folks, who consider winning a blue ribbon to still be a big deal. Most of these competitions are held mid-week when the crowds are the least. I enjoy watching these so my mid-week timing worked out great.
But I missed the most entertaining one – the skillet throwing competition. This event is held on Monday (the day I was visiting my Mom). Skillet throwing may sound like a sissified event but I’ve heard that some of the female contestants put shot-putters to shame. The record throw is over 64 ft!
In 2011, they had 76 women compete. Some of the contestants have said they consider it a special type of therapy.
Horses, Horses, and More Horses
I won’t give a run down of all the competitions. But the ones I enjoy the most involve horses. If you’re a horse lover, then going to the Fryeburg Fair will put you in horse heaven. There are race horses, draft horses, riding horses, and ponies. All competing, being judged in events, and all on display in barns that you can walk thru and see.
I especially like the draft horses. I marvel at these huge docile beasts weighing in at about 2,000 lbs. Horse pulling is big at the Fryeburg Fair and teams come from all over New England to compete. They compete for distance and for total weight. I watched the elimination events where the teams pull for total weight. It’s incredible to see a team weighing 3600 lbs pull over 10,000 lbs. That’s real horse power.
The hitch and cart competitions are also fun to watch. Teams and individuals are judged on how their horse performs and how well they direct the horse. The 6 and 8 hitch horse teams are fascinating to see how the driver controls all the horses and how the horses work together.
Fryeburg also has harness racing every afternoon during mid-week. In harness racing, the horses don’t run but instead they trot. It’s a little different than the thoroughbreds but still fun to wager on. I enjoy betting small amounts on the horses but I had no luck with any wager.
A Video Worth a Thousand Words
Trying to describe all the events and what I saw would take way too many words. So, while I was at the fair, I shot a bunch of video clips over three days. I put them together in this 8 minute video to show what is was like at the fair.
Like many fairs, the food options seem endless at the Fryeburg Fair. The fair food is primarily all the stuff your doctor tells you to avoid eating. Fried food is plentiful. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried Italian sausages dominate. There’s also several fish and chips stands, pizza stands, and numerous hand cut french fry places. And there’s plenty of desert places for those with a sweet tooth. It all looks and smells great. If you don’t have high cholesterol before you come, you’ll have it by the time you leave.
To eat healthy, I brought most of my own food. But, in order to get the full fair experience there were a few instances when I succumbed and sampled the “carney” food. Here’s a gallery of some foods that I saw and sampled. Just click on a picture to see a larger image.
During mid-week, there’s some type of music entertainment held each night in front of the Main Grandstands. It’s all provided as part of the daily fair entrance fee. Usually the entertainment is some type of country music performer.
One of the reasons I came up to the fair this year is because Sam Bush was playing on Tuesday night. Sam is a bluegrass legend. He’s a Grammy winner, award-winning fiddler, and probably one of the best living mandolin players on planet earth. I’ve seen him perform several times at bluegrass festivals.
It was a treat to see him perform up close. I got to stand right in front of the stage just a few feet away as he and his band performed.
As I mentioned, the Fryeburg Fair has plenty of on-site camping. It’s a popular way for RVer’s to soak in all that the fair has to offer. The camping areas are close to the entrances so it’s easy to walk back and forth throughout the day.
The camping is close quarters in two large fields. There are assigned spots with hook ups (110 electric and water only) in shared locations. Adapters, extension cords, and water splitters are a necessity. There are dump stations but no showers or bath houses. A self-contained rig is a necessity. Camping is $34 per day.
Camping at the fairgrounds seems to be popular with lots of folks. During mid-week, I saw mostly retirees in the campground. There were no loud music or late night parties. Most folks seemed to retire to their rigs after spending all day on their feet at the fair.
Here’s a short video that shows what the camping was like.
I’m so glad that I decided to go to the fair. It was a great experience. I got to admire lots of beautiful animals, got to do a little wagering on the horses, saw some great entertainment, and ate some tasty unhealthy carnival food.
Having my RV and staying for three days made it so I didn’t have to hurry. I could linger and take my time watching the competitions. Overall, it was a wicked fun time.