The activity level at the Guilford Fair grounds is rising as tents are erected, exhibitors deliver their goods, rides are assembled and fair organizers make sure everything is in order before the gates open at 1 p.m. Friday.
For the Guilford Agricultural Society this weekend is a culmination of months and months of meetings, planning and scheduling. This all-volunteer group works throughout the year to make sure the fair gates open every year with fun and entertainment for the whole family. If past years are any indication and of course, weather permitting, they are anticipating more than 25,000 to pass though the gates.
“The Agriculture Society’s main mission is to maintain the fairgrounds and put on the fair,” said member David Rosenthal. “That’s kind of what our focus is throughout the year. Even though the fair’s only three days there’s a lot of things that go into it in terms of planning.”
The group has been working not only to bring back all the excitement that attracts families year after year, including The Flying Wallendas, the antique tractor pull, the Childrens’ Zoo, the fabulous food court, and the cows, pigs, goats and chickens that fill the barnyard & animal exhibit tents, but has added some new and different attractions.
“One of things we tried to do is to develop this educational component,” said Rosenthal. “We have recently been trying to come up with ways to get back to some of the roots of the fair and the educational concept of providing educational exhibits is part of it.”
The Woodfuff Barn Museum, moved to the fairgrounds a number of years ago, houses antique farm implements. “We’re trying to curate that and improve that for the public,” said Rosenthal.
In keeping with this idea, the Society has invited Al Kostuk, a self-described mountain man, to be on the fairgrounds all day Saturday.
Along with his team, he will be doing blacksmithing, rope making and open-hearth cooking demonstrations. “Al’s suppose to be a very engaging demonstrator so I won’t say there isn’t an entertainment aspect to it!” said Rosenthal.
In addition, local artist Brendan Loughlin will be doing an art demonstration in the Arts & Crafts tent on Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Jo Montgomery, a Madison writer who’s recently released book “Loughlin,” focuses on the artist’s redemption through art, will join him. Montgomery and Loughlin will be signing the book. Although all details have not been finalized, “there may be a chance for some kids to join in and do some painting with him,” said Rosenthal.
“We’re trying to add something to the whole fair experience that maybe is a little more than some of the other fairs and is more than just a carnival,” said Rosenthal. “We want to have more than just cotton candy and rides.”
The Society is thrilled to have Nashville Country Star Love & Theft grace the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. The group will be performing on the brand new, permanent stage. This replaced the old stage, which,” was kind of a rickety affair and badly in need of repair so we just decided to tear it down and start all over,” explained Rosenthal.
The Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles duo has really skyrocketed in popularity since being booked for the Guilford Fair.
In August, their hit song, “Angel Eyes,” was the No. 1 song on Billboard's country chart and at Country Aircheck. Just last week they were received two Country Music Association nominations, one in New Artist of the Year category, the other for Vocal Duo of the Year. The awards will be announced November 1st.
“So that’s kind of a cool thing to have happen,” said Rosenthal. “They’re very popular and we expect a lot of folks will be coming just to see that show!”
In addition to Love & Theft the fair will welcome “The Elvis Remembered Show, Stingray and the Jailhouse Rockers” Friday night at 8:30 p.m. and Truck Stop Troubadours, billed as The Best Outlaw Country Music in New England, Sunday at noon and 2:30 p.m.
In the Guilford Fair Family Circus area, located near the entrance to the grounds, The Flying Wallendas, The Zoppe Cossack Riders and Muttsville Comix will be joined by The Flying Cortes. As a last minute addition to the fair, The Flying Cortes are not strangers to the Guilford venue, having performed here two years ago.
The Flying Cortes, “originally from Columbia, South America, have been entertaining audiences for generations with their twisting, spinning and somersaulting capabilities,” said their website.
Family Circus performances will be Friday, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
“I think that for $10 people get a bang for their buck,” said Rosenthal. “All the entertainment, plus the music, is all included. The only thing that’s extra is the rides, if you have kids, or if they want to play some of the carnival games, that’s extra.”
Rosenthal is also excited about the food court planned. “I think we have a terrific food court,” he said. “We have a lot of returning food vendors. People who have really provided good food and people like their food and they have been successful at the fair and they want to come back.”
“I think we have developed a nice experience here for people and we say there is something for everyone here, but it’s true,” said Rosenthal. “Some people are just really into the animal exhibits and want to see the judging of maybe the sheep or the judging of the cattle. Some people are really into the horse pull and tractor pull. There’s a lot going on, it’s like a 15 ring circus in a way!"
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What are the days and hours of the fair?
Friday, September 21 1 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday, September 22 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, September 23 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Where is parking?
Fairgrounds parking at Lovers Lane at Stonehouse Lane $5.00
Free shuttle bus from I-95 Exit 57, 1571 Boston Post Road (follow signs)
Friday: 4:30 p.m – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
What is the entrance fee?
Senior Citizens: $8.00
Children 6-11: $5.00
Children 5 and under: FREE
3-day discount pass: $25.00
Parking on site: $5.00
What are the wristbands and when will they be available?
For $22 fair goers can purchase a wristband Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., for unlimited access to rides.