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September just wouldn't be the same in Guilford without the iconic Guilford Fair, which returns to the Fairgrounds this weekend, Sept. 20 to 22. Part of the fabric of the town for the past 154 years, the fair is the second oldest agricultural fair in Connecticut and a poignant reminder of this town's farming history.
This year visitors may notice the addition of two new, permanent structures on the fairground property. With the aid of a handful of Amish carpenters, straight from Pennsylvania, the buildings were raised in just four days this summer. During the winter months, these new structures will be used as storage facilities for the tractors and other equipment, explained Georgianna Stickley, who has been involved with the goings on of the Guilford Fair for the past 60 years.
"I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the weekend. You get a lot of family entertainment for the price, and there is always a lot to see and do here," said Stickley.
Kicking off opening day on Friday, gates will open to the public at 1 p.m. with the famed pony drawing at 6:30 p.m. Gates close at 11 p.m. and open once again Saturday morning at 9 a.m.
The Guilford Citizens Parade will take place along the Green at 10 a.m., with an antique tractor pull to follow back at the Fairgrounds at 11:30 a.m., a llama show at 12:30 p.m., horse drawing at 1 p.m., a spelling bee at 2 p.m., and the horse drawing at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, the donkey and mule show starts things off at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Middlesex tractor pull and the garden tractor pull at 10 a.m. and the oxen pull at noon. Tents close for the weekend at 6 p.m.
The Flying Wallendas will be back at the fair, combining balance with courage and entertaining audiences with their aerial tightrope tricks. The famous group performed an eight-person, three-level pyramid that got them into the Guinness Book of World Records. Also on hand for fair fun will be the Records and Burpee Children's Petting Zoo, with all kinds of furry friends to see up close, including ponies, pigmy goats, exotic parrots, and maybe even a hopping kangaroo or two.
Music will also be part of the good time. On Friday night the Aerosmith cover band Draw the Line will be playing on the main stage, Saturday night Farm, a well-known country group from Nashville, will be on hand, and rounding out Sunday, The Signature Band with play for afternoon visitors.
A new addition to the entertainment catalog this year is the IllusionQuest Magic Show with David Garrity. Complete with vanishing assistants who reappear magically and floating audience members, this shows promises to delight, combining music, pantomime, situational comedy, and audience participation.
No Guilford Fair would be complete without the usual tents full of goats and sheep, mooing cows and clucking chickens, as well as the famed arts and craft display (the barnyard) and the photography exhibit.
"We don't miss the Guilford Fair," added John McDonald of A-1 Complete AutoCare in Guilford, who is sponsoring the horse pull for the second year. "It's a great fair, in a beautiful location, easy to get around, and it's fun! We sponsor the Horse Pull because we try to help out the community when we can. Without the pulls, it just won't be a fair."
As a reminder, neither animals nor alcohol are permitted on the fairgrounds. Admission prices are $10 for adults, seniors $8, children 6 through 11 years old $5, and children younger than five are admitted free. There is also a three-day discount pass offered for $25. On-site parking is $5, but free parking with shuttle service is located off of exit 57.
For more information and a detailed schedule of events, visit www.guilfordfair.org or call 203-453-3543.