Cumberland Fair returns with new show arena, road system

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CUMBERLAND — Most fairs claim they’re bigger and better each year, but with a new show arena and surrounding road system, the Cumberland Fair has earned some bragging rights this year.

The 146th annual event opens Sunday, Sept. 24, and runs through Sept. 30 at the 197 Blanchard Road fairgrounds.

Fairgrounds members braved the rain Sept. 6 to celebrate the new additions in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $50,000 project included Patriot Insurance Way, sponsored partly by the Patriot Insurance Company, as well as the Blue Seal Feeds Show Arena, while Blue Seal Feeds of Maine partly sponsored.

Patriot Insurance Way connects to two other as-yet-unnamed roads that loop around the nearly 10,000-square-foot arena and back to an existing road, between the farm museum and the intersection of Blanchard and Bruce Hill roads. The new roadways total roughly 1,000 feet, Cumberland Farmers Club President Mike Timmons said after the ribbon-cutting.

The arena – which now also has an associated 144-square-foot building – sits on what used to be rough terrain used for parking, he explained, adding, “We needed to make an investment, and expand our fair.”

Lyle Merrifield, superintendent of the farm museum, plotted out a vision for that space, which now also provides hundreds of feet of extra room for vendors, and for Merrifield to display antique farming equipment, Timmons said.

Although some groups have expressed a desire to showcase at the fair, the space has not been available to do so, noted Linc Merrill of North Yarmouth, president and CEO of Patriot Insurance.

The aged Woodbury barn near the area will be renovated and made into a place for 4H Club and community members alike to meet, said Timmons, who hopes to accomplish the task through fundraising

“This is exciting,” Merrill said, noting that the fair offers something for everyone: agriculture, animals, games, food and museums.

Kent Nutrition Group, the parent company of Blue Seal, has been around the northeast U.S. for nearly 150 years – a little longer than the Cumberland Fair – said Mark Farrington, vice president of sales.

“A lot of us that work for the company have had animals when we were kids, and enjoyed this fair,” he said. “This is a chance to give back, and give something that the kids will build memories for, that will last their whole lives.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Fair events

Parking at the Cumberland Fair is free, as is admission for children 12 and younger. People age 13 and older get in for $10, and seniors pay $3 on Tuesday and Thursday.

Log onto cumberlandfair.com for more information and a complete schedule of events, or call 829-5531.

The fair opens Sunday, Sept. 24, with a parade around the race track at 11 a.m., the Colby College Woodsman’s Team at the new Blue Seal Feed Show Arena at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., a demolition derby in front of the Grandstands at 6:30 p.m., and a sweepstakes horse pull at the Pulling Arena at 7 p.m.

The Don Campbell Band plays the main stage in front of the Exhibition Hall noon Sunday and at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

G-Force Laser Tag begins at noon in the Entertainment Building Wednesday through Saturday.

Monday is Maine Agriculture Day, and visitors can pay $15 that day, Wednesday and Thursday to go on all the rides. The Bob Charest Band plays the main stage at 6 p.m. Monday.

Tuesday features the Cumberland Fair Annual Classic Car Show on the race track at 6:30 p.m., a sweepstakes oxen pull at 6:30 p.m. in the Pulling Area, and performances by Dan Wolfe at 2 p.m., Gospel Friends at 4 p.m., and the Larry Williams Band at 7 p.m.

A monster truck show will be held at 7 p.m. in front of the Grandstands Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday also hosts a 4H livestock auction at 4 p.m. in the Show Arena, and a Downeast Barbershop Quartet performance on the Main Stage at 3 p.m.

Thursday offers the State of Maine Old Fashioned Two-Crust Apple Pie Contest throughout the day, as well as the Exchange St. Barbershop Quartet throughout the fairground from 3-7 p.m., and a three-horse Canadian-style oxen pull at 6 p.m. in the Pulling Ring.

Cumberland Fair Maine Maple Day is Friday, and that day also features Debbie Meyers on the Main Stage at 5 p.m., and a professional tractor pull at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Grandstands.

Saturday, Sept. 30, showcases the World of Horses in the Pulling Arena at 5:30 p.m. a truck pull in front of the Grandstands at 6:30 p.m., Brian Wardwell and Downeast Brass at 1 and 3 p.m. on the Main Stage, and fireworks by Central Maine Pyrotechnics in front of the Grandstands at about 8:30 p.m.

— Alex Lear

Mark Farrington, vice president of sales with the Kent Nutrition Group (the parent company of Blue Seal Feeds), cuts a ribbon at the Cumberland Fairgrounds Sept. 6. A new show ring and road system, sponsored by Blue Seal and the Patriot Insurance Company, are new to the fair this year.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.