Sunday, August 31, 2008

Haddam Neck Fair

Many of the towns around Middletown have thriving Fairs, reflecting and promoting their agricultural traditions. While the most famous is in Durham at the end of September, other town fairs also provide great education and entertainment for all of us folks from the big city of Middletown. Haddam Neck is a wonderful community of grand old homes and horse pastures dating back to the heyday of the Connecticut River quarries and shipping. They hold their annual Fair on Labor Day weekend every year, this year is the 97th annual. I went on Saturday, impelled by my 12-year old daughter's desperate desire to see the goat judging at 11:00. I found the fair to share many of the features that we have always enjoyed at the Durham Fair, but at a far more relaxing scale.

Admission is a very reasonable $7 per adult (children 12 and under free), and the food prices are reasonable as well. At this fair there is enough to entertain the entire family for the day, but not so much that it becomes an exhausting ordeal to make sure you've seen everything ("Daddy, Daddy, we forgot to see the giant pumpkins, we have to go back up that hill and into the building around the corner from the turnip displays.") The vegetable and baking competitions (my favorite part of any fair) are big enough to showcase great produce and pies but not so huge and crowded to lose sight of individual creations.

The goat barn was a beehive of activity as 4-legged creatures and their proud and anxious owners got ready for the judging. Surly teenagers, screaming children, and scolding parents were nowhere to be seen. Instead, children from ages 3 to 18 worked diligently trimming hooves, shaving udders and washing tails. The farm animal events seem to bring out a kind of serious and dedicated fun that crosses all generations, as it involves people in a shared purpose that anybody from 2 to 102 can share.

The fair continues Monday, the schedule of events and directions to get there are here. The highlights today include a Working Cattle Show, an Oxen Pull, and a Baby Show at 3:ooPM.

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