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Lyme — The Hamburg Fair opened Friday with swirling rides, cotton candy and pony pulls that for many, make this an annual tradition.
At the Lyme Grange Fairgrounds, children darted across the greens, families fed goats at the petting zoo and friends laughed with each other as they sampled food from vendors.
"You can't miss the Hamburg Fair," James Hatt of Salem said.
Hatt, who was watching the pony pull with friends, said he visits the fair every year for the horse pull, live music and, of course, the fried dough — just as his family has done for generations. His father used to judge the ox pull competition, and his grandparents used to pile their children into the back of the wagon to travel from Salem to the fair each year.
This year marks the 112th year of the fair, which is organized by the Lyme Grange Fair Association. Hatt said that while the people — and transportation methods — have evolved over the years, the essence of the fair remains the same.
"It hasn't changed," he said.
Opening night featured a wood carver, a dunking booth, an array of animals, food vendors and games, pony rides and brightly lit amusement park rides — from the carousel to the Tilt-A-Whirl. The Lyme Fire Co. and Lyme Ambulance Association were among the booths at the event, along with local farms and vendors.
Fairgoers also went to see about 145 small animals — geese, hens, roosters, rabbits and ducks — housed in cages under a tent. The animals will be judged in a contest today.
Amy Stoddard of East Lyme looked on as her 5-year-old daughter, Emma, visited two rows of rabbits in cages, and asked her if she had a favorite.
"I like them all," said her daughter, smiling gleefully.
Stoddard, who playfully teased her friend, Lisa Connelly of Killingworth, that they should go down the towering and winding "Land Slide" to celebrate their 40th birthdays this year, said she was enjoying the fair.
"We love it up here," she said, "It's beautiful."
Damian Francis of Michigan, whose 23-month-old son, Logan, was nestled in his arms, said he came to the fair as a child during visits to his grandmother's house in Old Lyme. Now he and his wife, Amanda, visit family in Old Lyme each year, timing the visits to coincide with the fair.
"The Hamburg Fair is a family tradition," he said.
The fair will continue at the Lyme Grange Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday with imperial shows, bands, competitions and rides. A full list of events is available at hamburgfair.org.