The Fryeburg Fair, 2014, Fryeburg, Maine – by Beth

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In Maine, the Fryeburg Fair is the biggest and grandest of fairs.  People come from all over the country.  In fact, it’s estimated that 300,000 people come annually to attend the Fryeburg Fair, which began in 1851.  It is very common for Mainers to take a weekday off from work to go, because the crowds on the weekends are so intense that both parking and navigating the fair can be problematic.  My husband took last Thursday as a vacation day, and off we went.  Disclaimer:  It is absolutely impossible to capture the breadth of the Fryeburg Fair in a short blog, but what follows is a photo introduction.

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First things first.  Edna Olmstead, who hooks with us on Tuesdays, and who makes our super popular flannel frame covers and felt snip containers, won two blue ribbons in the hooked rug category at the fair.  I had the privilege of seeing Edna working on both of these pieces, and photos can not do them justice.  Additionally, I had to shoot them through a glass case, but you get the idea.

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Vintage style Scottie dog, hooked by Edna Olmstead. Traditional pattern.
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Cows and ivy, hooked by Edna Olmstead, designed by Brenda Sauro of the Painted Mermaid Studio.

There were so many skills, handcrafts and trades represented at the fair it was mind boggling.  Here are some of the examples I found particularly interesting.

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Top: Spinning and weaving. It turned out that the lady spinning was a good friend of a former neighbor of mine on Paris Hill, and we had a nice conversation about that. Bottom: Endless fleeces in the fiber building. I am not yet a spinner. Probably just as well right now!
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Clockwise: 1) This is sea scene made via eggshell mosaic. I’ve never ever seen such a thing before. 2) The wall of quilts went on forever. 3) This is extremely fine cross stitch. You had to get right up on to it to determine that it was cross stitch at all. 4) Christening outfit in lace crochet/tatting.
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Clockwise: 1) Peeling apples in the old fashioned kitchen 2) Blacksmithing demonstration 3) Making rice pudding on the wood fired cook stove 4) Sorting cranberries old school
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Clockwise: 1) Making apple cider using an antique press 2) Getting corn off the husk with 19th century machine 3) Evaporating sap for maple syrup 4) Beekeeping
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As the owner of a 200 year old home that has both antique clapboards on the house and had antique shingles (which regrettably we are now forced to replace) on the barn, this equipment fascinated me. The shingle making machinery is from the 1860s. Top: Jig and saw for carving tapered clapboards from a round log. Bottom left: Shingle cutter and finisher. Bottom right: Pile of finished clapboards.
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Call me crazy, but I find color and pattern in almost anything, and I loved the variety of each in these tools of the trades displays. Top: vintage oil cans Bottom: chainsaws through the ages
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The making of beanhole beans is an important New England skill. You dig a deep hole, and via either wood or hot coals build a fire in the bottom. A crock or Dutch oven of New England baked beans is then lowered in and slow cooked until they are done. My husband Bill enjoyed a sampling.

There are so many animals at the Fryeburg Fair.  The Wikipedia entry on this fair says that it may have the largest number of oxen, for example.  I did not photograph the oxen, I’m sorry to say.  Had I known of their claim to fame at this fair I might have.  However, I did photograph many of the other animals.

First, the cows…

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I regard this as a practice cow…
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Top: the milking parlor Bottom: my favorites, Belted Galloways
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There were animals on the move everywhere, going to shows and events.

Sheep.  I love sheep.  After all, they are where our wool comes from.

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The bottom left photo is actually of a “sheep show” that was going on. I have no idea why that one guy has his hand over the sheep’s tail area. Anyone else know?

Poultry.  Although we have twenty-one hens at the Parris House, I find that I am only partial to my own.  Not that crazy about a building full of others for some reason.

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Top: cute chickens Bottom: not nearly as cute chickens; don’t even get me started about roosters

I know there are some of you who came to our page via also being fans of Beekman 1802.  Here are your goat pics.

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Fair warning.
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Goats seem to be like puppies that never grow up.

Let’s not forget the cool old vehicles…

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Clockwise: 1) Stanley Steamer 2) this is how mail was delivered in winter in Lovell, Maine in the 1830s 3) an original military type Jeep – I coveted this 4) antique wagon belonging to the agricultural society

Before I end, I want to just throw a trivia question out here.  What are these two things, what do they have in common, and what are they each used for?  The Mainers will all know.

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This is my last country fair post of the season.  I did not make the Common Ground Fair in September because we were at Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs, NY instead.  Common Ground would be the other contender for grandest fair in Maine, although with a decidedly different (and wonderful) character.

Foliage is at or near peak in many places in Maine right now, the air is crisp, and the scents of the outdoors are pretty intoxicating.  I hope if you haven’t already, some of you will share in fall and fair season in Maine.

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Isn’t this what everyone does with their round bales?

5 thoughts on “The Fryeburg Fair, 2014, Fryeburg, Maine – by Beth

  1. I love the cow and ivy hooked rug. i think the first pic was what the cow/horse/oxen pulled to flatten the snow on the roads. and the second was a old dog sled?

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