Cumberland Fair – This is an opportunity to showcase what you have learned in 4-H throughout the year.
Cumberland, ME is probably a half hour north of Portland. When you arrive in town, turn left onto a two-lane highway, pass an apple cider stand and a canopy of fall trees, and in a couple of miles the fairgrounds will grow out of the countryside. It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a late September afternoon.
Maine’s fair industry has an active fair circuit that really picks up during the late summer/early fall. Two of the state’s highways (Scarborough Downs and Bangor Raceway) are closed during this period from mid-September to mid-October, and horses and riders become fair nomads – traveling to the various week-long fairs that fill this calendar period.
The very first Cumberland Fair was held over two days on October 10 and 11, 1868, in the center of town behind what is now Greeley High School. The land was provided by Captain Enos Blanchard. It is now the home of the Cumberland Food Company on the corner of Tuttle Road and Main Street. The women of the town had the opportunity to show everyone what wonderful cooks they are and what fine needlework their fingers can create. Farmers brought their biggest and tastiest vegetables. Men with working bulls could demonstrate the strength and coordination of their animals during the oxen pulling competition. Local horsemen competed with their best horses on Main Street from the intersection of Tuttle Road and Blanchard Road to Greeley Road. And so it began.” (Taken from: cumberlandfair.com/about… )
The Cumberland Fair is about a century and a half old, so I couldn’t help but look at its history. It’s pretty cool, right? That a group of local farmers wanted to come together to celebrate (and brag about) what made their community thrive. What’s even cooler is that nowadays it’s still an annual event that people love and support!
If you love history, you’ll love the old government district and the farm museum; I always spend more time than I realize looking at the old washing machines, ice boxes, and kitchen equipment (and thinking about my grandparents – the stuff they used was incredible)!
And the events are great too, if you know how to time it right (there’s something for everyone, from races to cooking demonstrations to live music): the Colby College Woodsman team showed a lumberjack game this year and it was super entertaining and exciting. I think I missed my calling.