Finding the Ledyard Fair a new home
Ledyard Fair Association, we feel your pain.
The 74th annual Ledyard Fair kicked off Friday under a dark cloud, both literally and figuratively. The passage of Hurricane Dorian far out at sea was spinning enough clouds this way to threaten a showery first night. But the darker cloud was the uncertainty of where, or perhaps whether, the fair will take place next year.
And next year would be the 75th. That’s a big one.
The fair is losing its Ledyard Center location. With the closing of the Ledyard Center School at the end of last school year, town leaders were looking for development opportunities. In May, residents voted at town meeting to sell the school and 18.8 acres of town property to developer Sal Monarca for $500,000. He plans to convert the front of the school into retail and dining spaces, demolish the connector between the front and rear wings of the school, and convert the rear wing into 12 senior housing units.
The town retained about seven acres of town green from Route 117 back to the lower pavilion.
This was the right deal for the town. It should enhance Ledyard Center, already the village commercial hub of the town, utilize the former school and maintain ample public space.
But it causes problems for the fair. While much of the fair takes place on what remains town property, parking, storage space and the tractor pull area spill over into what is now private land. The owner allowed its use this year, but going forward the fair has to find a new home in town.
Elected town officials should make assisting the fair association in the effort to find a location a priority. Find the right spot, and the fair could indeed be “bigger and better” for its 75th anniversary, as association President Loretta Kent optimistically put it.
Finding a site is not the only challenge. Also needed will be buildings and barns and access to electricity. Ledyard doesn’t ask for much state aid, perhaps this could be a case where it gets some help.
The Ledyard Fair arrives as an antidote for the post-Labor Day blues. In these parts, September wouldn’t be the same without it.
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