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The Guilford Fair offers carnival rides to thrill the young, and young-at-heart.

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After pausing for a pandemic, Guilford Fair will return

Iconic event promises old and new traditions, from cotton candy and blue ribbons to Covid vaccines

GUILFORD—When the Guilford Fair returns on Sunday, Sept. 5 and Monday, Sept. 6, in addition to rides, vendors, entertainment, blue ribbons, and Bingo, you can also get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Rescue Inc. will be outside the front gate offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and both Pfizer doses at the Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. Those ages 12 to 17 years who want to get the Pfizer vaccine will need to be accompanied by a parent to sign the consent form.

Fair organizers said guidelines from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for COVID-19 protocols will be maintained throughout the fairgrounds.

Currently, Vermont has no mask mandate, but the Vermont Department of Health told The Commons this week that if the Fair wants to implement a more-strict policy, it may do so.

There is currently no plan to do so.

After the 2020 Fair had to be canceled due to the pandemic, organizers are looking forward to this year’s celebration — rain or shine.

“There is deep comfort in tradition and familiar things, and after a year and half of the abnormal, we are proud and excited to bring this nostalgic weekend back to our beautiful town,” they wrote in the August issue of The Guilford Gazette.

“The Guilford Fair honors and promotes Vermont’s agricultural traditions in a way that is both educational and entertaining.

“People come to relax and to watch the horse draw, cattle and horse shows, and sheep shearing demonstrations. There is live music to enjoy and beautiful home-grown produce, flowers, handiwork, and hobbies to admire. The Guilford Fair continues to be an opportunity to catch up with old friends, support community organizations, and enjoy the last fleeting days of summer.”

The Fair was first held here on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 1942. According the written history of the fair, “It was a day when work was set aside for a little while and friends and neighbors were able to gather and catch up on the events of the summer. It was a huge success, and an annual tradition was born.”

This traditional country fair that celebrates “community, family, and the simple joys of rural life” will once again offer local exhibits, a horse pull, cattle and horse shows, small animal barn, carnival rides, and lots of fair food. Sheep-shearing and vegetable-growing competitions and more will offer blue ribbons and prizes at Fitch Hall and throughout the fairgrounds.

Bingo will be back both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as will the Guilford Volunteer Fire Department chicken barbecue and the Guilford Community Church food booth with its usual menu.

Broad Brook Grange has been running Bingo in its pavilion at the fairgrounds for generations. The cost is still a quarter for a one-game card, although this year there will also be occasional higher-stakes games — a more expensive card with a bigger payout.

The Bingo pavilion will also include a small bake sale of homemade goodies from the bakers of the Grange, which also sponsors the King Arthur Baking Contest.

All proceeds will help keep the Grange organization going until the Broad Brook Community Center reopens a year from now in a renovated and restored Grange building.

Plenty of local music

Local music of all types has traditionally been a big part of the Fair. This year’s lineup includes a slate of favorites:

• Kevin Parry — Saturday, Sept. 4, 1 to 3 p.m. The Brattleboro guitarist plays classic blues and rock with slide and standard style guitar and vocals.

• Andy Avery Trio — Sunday, Sept. 5, 10 a.m. to noon. The trio features Andy Avery, of Jamaica, on lead vocals and guitar, Fred Lantz on upright bass, and Kevin Parry on lead guitar. They play a variety of music, from the ’60s and ’70s folk-pop-rock era to bluegrass, country, and originals.

• Groove Prophet — Sunday, Sept. 5, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Rock ’n’ roll with local guitarists Derek Nadeau and Mark Manley, joined by Keith Levreault on drums and John Miller on bass.

• Mando X — Sunday, Sept. 5, 3 to 5 p.m. Eclectic and original music arranged for mandolin and guitar featuring Mark Trichka from Putney on mandolin, Kevin Parry on acoustic guitar, and Tim Thrasher on bass.

• Three Way Street — Monday, Sept. 6, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Bluegrass, swing, Zydeco, and more with Putney’s Lisa Brande on fiddle, Mark Trichka on mandolin, and Kevin Parry on guitar.

• Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band — Monday, Sept. 6, noon to 2 p.m. Longtime Guilford resident Patty Carpenter on vocals and keyboards leads the band with her daughter, Melissa Shetler, on vocals, Scotty Shetler on saxophone, Travis Light on bass, Jeremy Gold on violin, Dave Maclean on drums, and Draa Hobbs on guitar.

• Abe Loomis Band — Monday, Sept. 6, 2:30 to 5 p.m. Loomis is a western Massachusetts songwriter with a band of local musicians, including Jim Henry on guitar, Sturgis Cunningham on drums, Tracy Grammar on fiddle and vocals, Dave Chalfant on bass, and Melissa Shetler on vocals.

The rest of the fair schedule

• On Saturday, Sept. 4, Fitch Hall exhibits will have their registration period from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• The fair gets rolling on Sunday morning with the Obstacle Challenge at 9 a.m. Fitch Hall also opens at that hour, where produce, canned and prepared foods, handicrafts and hobbies, fancywork, floral, arrangements, and more will be judged and displayed.

• A classic car show runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (rain date is Monday). The ox pull starts at 10 a.m., and ongoing sheep-shearing demonstrations take place on Sunday and Monday.

• Want to be Farmer for a Day? You can, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., near the small animal barn, on Sunday and Monday.

• An ice cream eating contest will held at noon on Sunday and Monday, but save room for the fire department’s barbecue chicken, which will be ready starting at noon. The firefighters not tending the barbecue pit will take part in the Fire Department muster at 1 p.m.

• Fair attendees will be entered into a raffle for a children’s bike (for ages 6–12), with winners drawn at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You must be present at time of drawing to win.

• On Monday, horses take center stage with a horse show at 8 a.m. and a horse pull at 10 a.m. A cattle show will also be held at 10 a.m, as will chainsaw and crosscutting contests at that hour. Fitch Hall will again be open so you see who got the prize ribbons.

Refreshments will be on sale throughout the fairgrounds. Gates open at 7 a.m. Admission is $8 ($5 for senior citizens and $2 for children ages 6 to 12). Children age 5 and younger enter free.

D&L Amusements will offer ride bracelets on Sunday, Sept. 5, from 1 to 4 p.m., for $20 each.

No ATM is on the fairgrounds, so fairgoers are advised to come with cash in hand.

For updates and more information, visit guilfordfairvermont.com.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #628 (Wednesday, September 1, 2021). This story appeared on page A1.

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