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Feature Article

August 25, 2005


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Gray Merriam

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by Jean Griffin

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by Leo Enright

Parham Fair keeps up the momentum

by Jeff Green


A few years ago things looked pretty rough at the Parham Fair. Attendance was on the wane; midway companies saw no profit in bringing rides to Parham, even though the Fair Board was offering as good a deal as they could. It was looking as if a tradition that had lasted 110 years might be on its last legs.

Horse shows, Antique Tractor Pulls, Horse Pulls, animal shows, displays of vegetables, preserves and pies: the representations of the agricultural heritage of the region seemed to have lost their appeal.

All of that changed last year. The Fair Board was able to attract a Midway company, and they instituted new events, including hiring popular Country bands and running a demolition derby on Sunday.

For the Parham Agricultural Society, these new attractions did not represent an abandonment of the traditional agricultural focus of the Fair. “We are still primarily an Agricultural Fair,” said Fair Board President Philip Smith at the time, “but we decided we needed to also have the kinds of events that would attract more people.”

The plan worked last year, and it worked even better this year. Attendance went up this year again, and even the threat of rain did not dampen the enthusiastic crowds. While the Midway, the Demolition Derby, a new ATV Pull Event, and the country-rock band Ambush were all popular, there was also an increase in the number of exhibitors in the horse and bird shows, the pet show and other traditional events. The stands were full for the Light and Heavy Horse Pull on Saturday afternoon as the rain abated despite threatening skies.

Eight hundred single day tickets and 78 three-day passes were sold on Friday Night, 1014 tickets on Saturday, and 1080 on Sunday. These numbers don’t include the 250 members of the Agricultural Society who attend for free.

“Attendance was down at a lot of fairs this summer because of the hot weather, according to the Midway company, so the threat of rain last weekend might not have been a bad thing after all,” said Philip Smith.

The weather was fine and clear on Sunday for a performance by John Reid and Eagle Band and the Demolition Derby in the afternoon. Among the winners were locals Spencer Robinson, who placed first among the big cars, and Jason Ducharme, who placed second in the mini car division.

The Fair was also helped out this year by a larger group of volunteers than in previous years - “But we are always looking for new Board members and new volunteers to help share the load,” says Phillip Smith.

If attracting young volunteers is to be taken as a sign of the Fair’s long-term prospects, things are looking good on that front as well. Lindsay Comb, Adam Smith, Tiffany Smith, Lucas Howes, Darcy Clow, Sam Morey, and Josh Vallier are Junior Board members who put in long hours during this year’s Fair.

“Whatever needed doing - parking cars, hauling equipment, cleaning garbage - they were all there to do it,” said Philip Smith.