Hillsborough County Fair offers something for everyone

NEW BOSTON – County fairs offer something for everyone, the old parts that everyone expects – sheep and goats and ox pulling – plus some of the newer farming innovations to make country living a little easier. The 58th version of the Hillsborough County Fair on Sept. 11 to 13 was no exception.

It’s an old-fashioned agricultural fair with cow barns and horse pulling and exhibits of fruits and vegetables. Exhibitors were encouraged to create some kind of "critter" from vegetables.

Hillsborough County Farm Bureau had information and advice for all comers as well as a raffle of coupons good at a variety of local farms.

It is essentially a 4-H fair, so many of the exhibitors and demonstrators are young people with their own carefully reared animals. Showing animals is also a test of poise and handling on the part of the young breeder.

River Noel of Bedford cuddled his rabbit ‘Frubal," one of many grade school-aged owners of rabbits – lop eared, standard, fuzzy and of many colors.

Teen-aged girls from Amherst, Hollis, Temple and many other area towns exhibited their sheep, leading them around an in-door ring for the judges, the sheep all neatly clipped and polished and, for sheep, disciplined.

Another group had dairy goats, while others showed their horses and equitation skills, and still others their dogs.

But adults compete for ribbons and bragging rights as well. Craig McCorquodale of Mont Vernon had his prize board in the brand new swine barn and was willing to talk pigs with any and all who came through.

Animals of several ages from Purgatory Falls Alpaca Farm filled several pens in another tent.

Owner Tim Welch showed them off while wife Dana sat to one side spinning her colorful yarns and conversing with the passers-by.

Among the many special treats were a show offered by Eyes on Owls of Dunstable, Mass., new to the fair this year. In an interactive program, Marcia and Mark Wilson showed two screech owls, a barn owl, a barred owl, a great-horned owl, and a huge Eurasian eagle owl. There was plenty of time to talk and take a selfie or two.

An old McCormick farm tractor ran a vintage shingle mill, creating in the process a much sought-after pile of animal bedding.

For those so inclined, there was a farm tractor pull, ox and horse pulling contests, and the Northeast Mounted Shooters, a display of both riding skills and marksmanship. Horseshoe pitching ran all day.

And, of course, there was food: fried dough, fried Oreos, fried pickles, hot dogs and cheeseburgers with French fries, Sno-cones, and, in the commercial tent, Nelson’s fudge.

Both political parties – widely separated in the commercial tent – offered information, bumper stickers, and some (usually) soft sell.

Fairs typically run through the fall, celebrating the harvests and natural bounty. And provide a lot of fun.