Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 7, 2023
Summer weather blesses Blue Hill Fair
by Tressa Versteeg
Five days of 70 degrees and sun brought out the crowds to the Blue Hill Fair, held from Thursday, August 31 to Labor Day, Monday, September 4, at the Blue Hill fairgrounds. “The weather has been our best friend,” said Blue Hill Fair Vice President Erik Fitch. Fitch said that the turnout numbers were “a lot, a lot,” noting lines at all the food vendors and rides on Monday.
Over the five days, visitors enjoyed entertainment from the Great Maine Lumberjack Show to talented pigs featured in the Pork Chop Revue, to the women’s skillet toss, to live music from Jamie O’Neal and Southern Rock’s Finest, to Micro Wrestling All-Stars.
The fair continued to include agricultural traditions such as the showing of dairy cattle, beef cattle, goats and sheep. There were also the fan-favorite sheep dog trials, llama and alpaca demos and horse and oxen pull competitions.
Spectator Geoffry Smith of Ellsworth has been watching the oxen pull at the fair “for years,” since he was a kid and attended with his grandfather. He said he wished there “could have been more animals,” as there were only three teams of oxen competing in all categories, which were combined for one 3,300 Over and Under pull. The winning oxen, Max and Billy, driven by Bruce Currier of Chesterville, pulled 6,700 pounds in the final round.
In general, Smith remarked that the fair has changed over the years. “It’s not what it used to be,” he said. While noting there are more concerts now than when he was a kid, other areas feel sparse. “The fair has less things, less vendors, and less rides than when I was growing up.”
The Exhibition Hall was full of prize-winning produce, farm and grange displays, rifle raffles and cooking contests. For the first time, the fair featured a competition called Chopped, in the style of the Food Network cooking show where contestants use mystery ingredients to create a dish. This year’s required ingredients were: Maine wild blueberries, zucchini, oatmeal and yogurt. Bonus points were awarded for the use of honey. There were 16 entries, and Michelle Rice of Hancock took first prize. Exhibition Hall Coordinator Christy Jordan-Rebar said they plan to hold the Chopped competition again next year.
First-prize winners were Betty Benner of Deer Isle for blueberry pie, Amanda Sprague of Lamoine for traditional whoopie pie (adult), Miles Plessmer of Blue Hill for traditional (kid) and non-traditional whoopie pie (kid), and Bethany Cormier of Sedgwick for non-traditional whoopie pie (adult).
“I am very happy,” said Cormier, after her cinnamon whoopie pies took first place. “I thought they were good, but I didn’t know if they were good enough to win.”
Jordan-Rebar said this fair’s cooking competitions “went great,” as the number of participants increased for the traditional and non-traditional whoopie pies for both kids and adults. She hopes the number of “kids will keep growing” every year.