CUMBERLAND — Mike Timmons’ life with the Cumberland Fair began six decades ago when, as a boy of 12, he threw himself into a pen to wrestle a greased pig.
In an interview at the fairgrounds last week, while a mostly volunteer squad prepared the 179 Blanchard Road property for the 147th annual county fair, Timmons peered at the grandstand where that pig scramble took place.
“There was no roof on it then,” he recalled. “It was Stanley Hall’s son Russell and me.
“I did catch the first pig,” Timmons said, remembering with a smile that his school friend still got the limelight. “The next day in the paper, Russell Hall’s picture was in with his pig.”
Stanley Hall, fair president at the time and for nearly 30 years, was Timmons’ first boss. Timmons has been president for the past 12 years.
The fairgrounds a year ago added a new show area and road system near the corner of Blanchard and Bruce Hill roads, in time for the 2017 fair. Lyle Merrifield, superintendent of the farm museum, plotted out a vision for that space, which now provides hundreds of feet of extra room for vendors, and where Merrifield has displayed Maine Antique Power Association farming equipment.
This year marks the next phase of a long-range fairgrounds improvements project. Construction of a nearly 1,300-square-foot building is nearing completion, to house equipment and provide a section for Russell Hall’s brother George to display and sell related toys.
“They’re going to be able to set up a much more presentable … interior display,” Merrifield said Sept. 14. “You’re going to have the best of a worst situation, even on a rainy day.”
Donations largely support the improvements. Of the new building’s $75,000 cost, almost half came from donors such as the Hall family, and the rest from fairground funds, Timmons said.
A full schedule of events for the Sept. 23-29 fair is available at cumberlandfair.com. Adults pay $10, children 12 and younger get in for free, and senior citizens 65 and older pay $3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Parking is free, and weekly admission passes are $50.
The fair kick-off on Sunday, Sept. 23, features the grand parade – with the theme “Faith, Family & Farming” – on the racetrack at 11 a.m. Opening ceremonies and a pedal tractor pull take place afterward at the grandstand.
Don Campbell performs on the main stage at 11 a.m. and noon, the fair’s annual pumpkin contest is in front of the dairy barn at 11 a.m., and the Colby College Woodmen’s Show takes place in the museum area at 11:30 a.m. A horse pull with a dynamo-meter machine is at the pulling arena at 6 p.m., and the demolition derby is at the grandstand at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 24, is Maine Agriculture Day. It is also Military Monday, with active and retired service people with proper ID paying $3 admission. The Bob Charest Band plays the main stage at 6 p.m., and the antique tractor pull is in front of the grandstand at 6:30 p.m.
The Cumberland Fair Annual Classic Car Show is on the race track at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, and Gospel Friends and the Larry Williams Band perform on the main stage at 4 and 7 p.m., respectively.
The “Monster Truck Event” is a highlight on Wednesday, Sept. 25, taking place at the grandstand at 7 p.m. Also that day is “G-Force Laser Tag” (entertainment building, noon) and a 4-H livestock auction (show arena, 4 p.m.).
Thursday, Sept. 27 offers the State of Maine Old Fashioned Two-Crust Apple Pie Contest (Exhibition Hall, 11 a.m.), as well as a three-horse Canadian-style horse pull (Pulling Ring, 6 p.m.).
Maine Maple Day is Friday, Sept. 28, with syrup and pancake samples offered from 9-11 a.m., and syrup tasting from 10 a.m. to noon, maple cream at 1 p.m., and maple candy at 2 p.m., all at the Sugar House.
A pig scramble kicks things off at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, the “World of Horses” takes place in the pulling area at 5:30 p.m., and the NPPA Truck Pull energizes the front of the grandstand at 7 p.m.
The Central Maine Pyrotechnics fireworks show brings the fair to a close at the grandstand at about 8:30 p.m.
Mike Timmons has been involved with the Cumberland Fair since he was 12, and has been its president for 12 years. He stands in front of a new fairgrounds building finished in time for this year’s Sept. 23-29 fair that will house antique farming equipment.