The 98th Annual Durham Fair

The 98th Annual Durham Fair is fast approaching in 50 days! This year, the fair will be held September 21st – 24th, 2017. This long tradition began the last weekend of September in 1916 and continues to be held the same weekend every year since then. Seriously! The only years when a fair was not held was in 1938 due to the hurricane and 1942-1944 due to WWII. Even in 1985 when Hurricane Gloria hit, the fair was only closed on opening day due to the selfless efforts of volunteers who worked tirelessly so the fair could open Saturday afternoon. Pretty impressive if you think about it.

Back in 1916, admission at the first fair was only 25 cents! While prices have since gone up, the fair entrance remains reasonable for a General Admission ticket at $9 – if you purchase your tickets here by 9/20 you also receive free parking (though there is a convenience fee – you will pay $15 at the gate/ticket).

Over the years, the fair has grown in size and popularity, but still remains truthful to its core – it is one of the only fairs still run by volunteers instead of paid employee positions. As they have grown, they have added quite a few amenities that we now fully appreciate. Such as, in 1967 they added the first toilet building – woo hoo! This isn’t the only addition they have made, the fair which used to be held entirely on the Durham Town Green has expanded through several purchases to now include over 45+ acres.

While the size of the fair may seem daunting, don’t let it scare you away! It is one of the most manageable ‘large-size’ fairs out there. You can easily walk through the fairgrounds and see most of the exhibits within a few hours. Obviously, if you take part in any of the rides, watch the shows or just hop from food stand to food stand stuffing your face with fried Oreos and the like, this may take a little bit longer….

The parking situation is a bit confusing – there are many lots, at various distances from the fairgrounds, charging different prices and everything will be packed like a zoo. There is a free shuttle service provided at some of the more distant lots that are coordinated by the fair – for those lots you can find the parking information here. But don’t sweat it too much, you will find something somewhere, it’s all part of the adventure!

Like any traditional agricultural fair, activities include livestock exhibits, pulling contests, farm animal exhibits, and craft events. Each year, the fair gets more and more creative with their line-up. This year, there’s a new show in town this year – the Lumberjack Show! The Indian River Olde Time Lumberjack show will be featuring: World and State Champions Robert Bosco and Richard Slingerland. Events will include:

  • Axe Throwing: throw a 3LB axe at a 4” target over 20 feet away
  • Crosscut Sawing: race a chain saw against other teams
  • Chain Saw Carving: carves a well-known object from a block of wood
  • Springboard Chopping: climb up a 9’ spar pole, only to chop off the top of the pole
  • Log Rolling: attempt to knock off your opponent while walking on a log in water

The Lumberjack show isn’t the only form of entertainment, music line-up this year includes:

  • 9/23 Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
  • 9/22 Brothers Osborne
  • 9/24 USO Show Troupe shows up for Veterans Appreciation Day

Veterans Appreciation Day

To celebrate the land of the free and honor the brave who fought to keep it that way, the Durham Fair is offering FREE ADMISSION on Sunday, Sep 24, 2017 for:

  • Active duty/military personnel
  • United States Veterans

According to their website: Veterans Appreciation Day is sponsored by the VA Connecticut Health Care System. A military ID or VA ID is required for free admission. Other acceptable forms of ID for Veterans are a copy of a DD214 or proof of membership to any Veterans organization.

I am already daydream of all the fried food I plan on consuming; you’ll be able to roll me out of there by the end of the night! Are you planning on heading to the Hebron Fair this year? If so, drop me a line and we can plan to meet-up!


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