CUMBERLAND — The first Cumberland County Fair was held over two days in October 1868, three years after the final shot was fired in the American Civil War.
The fair has survived two world wars, a flu epidemic and the Great Depression. And, from Sunday, Sept. 25, to Saturday, Oct. 1, the 140th annual fair tips its hat again to the area’s agricultural roots.
Rain dampened two important days last year, so fair President Mike Timmons, in his fifth year at the helm, said he is keeping his fingers crossed for blue skies, especially on opening day.
Last year’s attendance was approximately 40,000. Timmons said his goal has been about 70,000 people a year.
Glancing up at the sky last week as the sun beat down on the fairgrounds at 197 Blanchard Road, he said “if that comes out and it stays out, I could easily have 60,000,” – or half that number if there are three or more days of rain.
“If you’ve got the weather and a good program,” Timmons said, “you can pay your bills.”
The week-long program, which includes more than 100 vendors, has much to offer. The Don Campbell Band will perform on the main stage at noon in front of the Exhibition Hall on Sunday, followed by comedian Bob Marley at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Grandstand. Campbell is back again on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Monday is Maine Agriculture Day, and people can pay $15 to go on all the rides; that promotion is also offered Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday and Thursday are senior citizens’ days, both featuring the Mac McHale Old Time Radio Gang at 1 p.m. The Tony Boffa Show is Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The Rave X Free Style Jumping event, to be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, in front of the Grandstand on the infield, is expected to attracts about 6,000 people, Timmons said.
To prepare for that popular event, back for the third year in a row, “there are thousands of things that you don’t see, before it can happen,” he said. “I’ve got good people.”
The Fourth Annual Classic Car Show will be Thursday at 6 p.m. on the fourth turn of the race track, with lawnmower racing to f0llow at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Grandstand.
Friday, Sept. 30, is Maine Maple Day, featuring pancakes and maple syrup samples in the morning and, throughout the day, demonstrations of maple cream, maple candy, maple coated nuts and maple sugar on snow, all at the Sugar House. The International Horse Pull will pit Canadians against Americans in the pulling arena at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1, will feature a truck pull in front of the Grandstand at 6:30 p.m., as well as the World of Horses Show in the pulling arena at 7 p.m.
More information and schedule updates are online at cumberlandfair.com.