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Sandwich Fair marks its 99th year

Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)

Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
October 14, 2009
SANDWICH — Thousands flocked to Sandwich for one long weekend of rides, food, parades, and a chance to see or showcase animals, antique vehicles, and artistic ability for the 99th annual Sandwich Fair.

The Sandwich Fair is approaching the century mark and still drew crowds during the nearly four days of activities.

The fair unofficially started with a midway preview on Friday night. Festivities officially kicked off on Saturday morning and ran through early Monday evening.

Animals were a major attraction for both fair goers and the local farmers and livestock owners showing their animals.

In the Donkey and Mule Show, participants lead around their animals in a series of tasks including taking them between poles, putting a pad and saddle on them, having them jump over obstacles, and other tasks.

Morgan Lavoie of Strafford took part with her donkey Joe and help from her grandfather Larry Moore.

Moore said he used to come with his daughters, who are now in their 20's.

"They showed livestock here when they were Young," Moore said. "We've been coming here a long time."

This was Morgan's first time showing an animal and she said she and Joe are like friends.

"He listens to me," she said.

Moore also had an American Donkey named Dale taking part in the competition.

This is Nicole Hook's 12th year attending the fair. Now 20, the Webster resident showed her Belgian Blue Shorthorn Crosses steers named Zeke and Xzavier in the Open Beef Show.

She helps get them ready for a competition by "playing with them at home."

"They train until your done with them," she said.

Pemi the Shetland sheep was getting ready for her competition with a little brushing by Emma and Joanne Bickford of Red Hill Pond Farm in Sandwich. This is Pemi's first show, though Emma Bickford is a veteran.

"We've been doing this since I was about six, we started showing since I was 8," she said.

From showing sheep to showing the uses of wool, the WinnE Spinners gathered in the Hodge Building to spin wool into yarn. Carol Truebe of Tuftonboro said the group has been spinning together for the past 10 years and meet on Monday mornings at a member's house. Sometimes they get their wool from neighbors and other times they get it from the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Fest.

Members of the group have made sweaters, hats, socks, and other items they usually keep or give to family and friends.

"I've always been interested in textiles of various sorts," said Mary Rice of Moultonboro, who sat with the group on Sunday.

Tractors were another major attraction. Antique tractors were on display and antique tractor owners could show how well their machines still worked.

Mike Dellavecchia, who spends his summers in New Hampton and works as an Emergency Room nurse at Lakes Region General Hospital, traded an old pick-up truck for his 17-year-old tractor.

"It's really old and dilapidated but it works," said Dellavecchia, who can plow snow, haul materials, and complete other tasks with it. "It's amazing, handier than the old pick-up."

This is his first fair competing. "I've been out here so many times," he said. "I said' I've got to try it someday."

Those who were too young to operate a real tractor had their own tractor pull competition. In the Children's Pedal Tractor Pull, children rode their pedal tractors down a line while pulling a wagon. Attendants would put bricks in the back of the wagon and participants were judged on how far they could go.

This the first time in the Pedal Tractor pull for 5-year-old Whitney Morse of Bellingham, Mass., and she competed in the Pedal Tractor Pull along with her cousins, 6-year-old Janessa Jackson and 5-year-old Shane Curry.

After Whitney was finished, her mom Tracey Morse greeted her at the end.

All of them got plastic hard hats and coupons for a free kid-sized order of fries as well as participant ribbons

"I liked getting the hat," Whitney said.

Saturday was the day for the Antique Automobile Parade. Antique cars lined up at the midway for a ride down Route 109, onto the fairgrounds, down Squam Lake Road and Church Street, up Route 113, and back onto Route 109 back to the midway. Cars were judged during the parade and placed after they returned to the fairgrounds.

A 1926 Model T Woody owned by Missy Diehl of Sandwich took second place.

"It was my mom's family car," she said, saying she owns eight antique cars. "I dug it out of the barn just for the fair."

The car was getting a bit of attention after the parade. A few parents also took photos of the car with their children inside posing with Diehl.

"A lot of people like looking at it," she said.

Sunday was the day of the Grand Street Parade. Around 200 people from 15 different organizations made colorful floats and displays. Audience members could see parading animals, puppets, antique vehicles, fire engines, and celebrate the 100th birthday of lifelong Sandwich resident Edna Burrows Bickford.

The fair wound down late Monday afternoon with the annual bake goods auction. Justin Chapman of Moultonboro acted as auctioneer for the pies, cakes, brownies, breads, and other baked treats that had been entered in the fair.

His first time as auctioneer was for a charity auction for the Sandwich Children's Center, of which he is a board member.

"I hopped on YouTube and listened to the auctioneers and studied up," Chapman said.

Chapman is an Upper Multi-age teacher at Sandwich Central School and some of his students helped out with the auction, some acting as runners. "I think one of them got a coffee cake."

Early Monday evening marked the end of the fair for another year, another year passed for many veteran fair goers to take part in their favorite activities.

The Sweet's of Coventry, Rhode Island have a house in Ossipee and make it a point to come to the fair. On Monday afternoon 7-year-old Christian Sweet was riding the rides with 2-year-old Troy sweet looking on with their mother.

"We love it, we always come," said Lori Sweet, saying the rides are a favorite.

The Kharitonov's of Barnstead were out with family and friends enjoying the fair.

"We like it because it's smaller, it's easier to get around," said Karen Kharitonov, whose daughter Sofia just won an inflatable guitar for testing her strength. "Kids can see the animals, do rides."

Jim and Janell George of Milford used to go to the fair regularly but have not gone in a few years. This year marked their return to the fair and their first fair with daughter Adrianna.

"I like the animals, especially the oxen show," Janell George said. "I will say the decorated cakes, that was a plus."

"I like the food," said Jim George. "The variety of food at this fair is better than at most fairs. You find things here you don't find at the other fairs."

The children in all the families listed the rides as their favorite part.

Martin Lord Osman
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