BARTON, VT - The 144th Annual Orleans County Fair came to a crashing end last Sunday evening, Aug. 21, as the Demolition Derby crashed its way to a winner.
For the first time in the history of the fair, cars started the fair and ended it. Who would have thought that enough Cadillacs would show up to break the world record of Caddies in one parade?
When the people from the Guinness Book of World Records finished their count, 298 Cadillacs went proudly through the streets of Barton, past the historical marker honoring Henry Leland, who was born in Barton and who invited the Cadillac, and continued down to the track at the fairgrounds. That was nearly three times the number of cars needed to break the record. It was also reported that one of the cars came from Alaska and the owners took six weeks to make the trip, driving the car and stopping off to see the sites along the way. They got an award for their efforts.
Overall, this was a great fair. The rides were new, very clean, arranged nicely, and the ride attendants were pleasant to the public and helpful to the children. The game booths were busy as well and you could see people walking around with stuffed toys that they had won from the games.
Of course, the number one attraction at any fair, the food, was everywhere. you could buy maple syrup and candies, fudge, pizza, pork, hot dogs and hamburgers, ice cream, milk, friend dough, French fries, pulled-beaten-pressed-poked-pulverised-pounded, and any other type of food available. You could stop and eat at one of the stands or just buy it and take it along as you enjoyed the fair.
As usual, there was plenty of activity at the horse pull ring. The horses shared their pulls with the ponies and oxen and they all drew large, active crowds for each event.
Further up the road towards the main entrance, the barn area was busy with many activities for the fair. Judging of everything from chickens and bunnies to holstein bulls went on, with many farms competing. This is also a great time for farmers to get together and share experiences and ideas as well as worries and fears about the health of their profession.
Saturday afternoon was exciting as the holstein show was presented and youngsters brought their calves to the ring to be judged. The animals were clean, freshly washed and brushed, and the youngsters holding the reins were dressed in show white pants and shirts with a black numbered white cloth on his or her back for identification.
At the milking parlor, while the cows were being tended to, the little children had a sandpit to play in - only this box was filled with corn. The children could still run their dump trucks around, etc., but they kept clean doing it, having fun and not spreading sand around.
The Orleans County Fair is the only fair in Vermont that still offers horse racing, and this year was no exception. People sat in the oldest wooden grandstand in New England on Senior Citizen Day (Friday) and watched the races. Doc Churchill was on hand with his trademark green felt hat and wide smile as he enjoyed the races one more time this year.
On a personal note, I have been to enough fairs throughout New England to knew that you can judge the success of the fair by how frazzled the fair president is. By Saturday afternoon, the fair president was so busy and frazzled that, if he hadn't had a driver's license, there would have been no way he could have remembered what is mother gave him for a name when he was born.
The fair is also a good time for reporters to get together and swap ideas and upcoming stories, and believe me, there are some whoppers coming down the pike. Paul Lefebvre, Steve Blake, Bethany Dunbar, Jennifer Hersey Cleveland, myself and others had a great time visiting with each other.
As a whole, the fair association did a very good job with the fair this year. Parking seemed to be very smooth and it was great to see no cars up near the Floral Hall or maple syrup booth. With people, children, rides and events there, cars just don't work.
The Orleans County Fair 2011 was a great success. Next year will be even better with Harvey Cleveland's leadership.
See you there!