Tunbridge World’s Fair Opens Today
A Vermont tradition since 1867, the Tunbridge World’s Fair opens today. Here are the details from the Times-Argus.
By ANDY CLARK STAFF WRITER
TUNBRIDGE — One of Vermont’s most authentic historical events returns for another four-day engagement, starting today.
The Tunbridge World’s Fair, a family-centered, educational agricultural fair, remains one of the state’s best-known events. Long traffic lines along major routes into Tunbridge in years past have signaled the fair’s great popularity, and articles in national and regional publications have attested to the fair’s authentic sense of Americana, from National Geographic magazine to the Boston Herald.
The fair has run continuously since 1867 — except in 1918, due to the great flu epidemic, and during World War II — 145 years.
“Last year, on opening day — Thursday — we had 2,500 kids come in at 9 a.m. on 65 buses,” said Alan Howe, president of the Tunbridge World’s Fair. “They had a lot of fun and in many cases they convinced their parents to bring them back on the weekend.”
“So we’re succeeding in our task to educate the public about agriculture, which is important in times that place consumers so far away from producers,” he added. “Every barn is booked up and will be full of animals or produce. During the fair, Tunbridge grows from 1,000 people to 20,000.”
Howe gave all kudos on the fair’s operations to his managers. “I have a great group of fair directors and heads of fair departments,” he said. “We’re proud of the compliments we’re received on how well the fair is run.”
The fair features demonstrations of farming and agricultural traditions and culture, working antique displays, horse and ox pulling, horse racing, cattle and horse shows, junior exhibits, floral and 4-H exhibits, contradancing, equestrian events and many free shows. Amusement rides require two, three or four tickets, at $1 per ticket, or $50 for 55 tickets. Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., unlimited ride tickets can be purchased for $15. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily.
Thursday is “Agricultural Education Day.” Harness racing takes place Thursday and Friday. On all four days, pig races are held at the Children’s Barnyard, caricaturist Erica Golter will be on Antique Hill and “Buddy DeClown” will walk around the grounds entertaining. Under a tent, entertainers include the Larkin Dancers, a local Tunbridge dance tradition; Kilted Colin, a comedy act in kilt, with bagpipes and unicycle; and Steve Corning, who juggles while contorting and performing comedy and magic. An antique tractor pull will be featured Sunday, starting at 10 a.m.
Free Vermont Radio, WFVR-LP, a.k.a. Royalton Community Radio, at 96.5 FM and online at www.royaltonra dio.org , will be broadcasting live from the fair all four days. This nonprofit, all-volunteer station will have a broadcast tent on Antique Hill and will be airing its usual mix of locally-produced programming, including live music from 6 to 8 p.m. the first three days. “There will be a special kids music show from 10 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, interviews with Fair ‘luminaries’ and chances for fairgoers to become part of community radio,” said Todd Tyson, program director for Royalton Community Radio.
Admission charges alone do not sustain the fair. Friends of the Tunbridge World’s Fair is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide exclusive tax-deductible support for raising awareness, continued improvement and preservation of the Union Agricultural Society — also known as the Tunbridge World’s Fair. The organization seeks to maintain and improve its fairgrounds, infrastructure, educational programs and associated events, while acknowledging and promoting its agricultural heritage and rural culture.
Linda Lazaroff, who is one of nine directors of the Friends organization, confirms that the group has renewed many aspects of the fair, including construction of a new horse barn, the sugarhouse and replacement of its bleachers. Those interested in learning more about the Friends of the Tunbridge World’s Fair are encouraged to attend one of its monthly meetings, or the annual meeting of the organization in July.