Agricultural fair hopes to reap greater attendance with changes it has sown
Lyme — One of Connecticut’s longest running agricultural fairs is back, after a two-year hiatus, with new attractions and changes in store for the 2022 season.
Between August 19 and 21, The Hamburg Fair will open its 2 Sterling City Road gates for its 119th year with a new format and entertainment schedule.
Throughout its history, the fair has only closed six times, including four years during World War II and again in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year, we’re bringing the fair back with the pledge, Hamburg Fair 2022: more to see and more to do,” said Dave Roberge, this year’s fair chairman.
The “more to see” includes concerts, two each evening, spanning genres from modern country and rock to hip hop and funk. The “more to do” includes fair standards like rides, food and vendors, but now includes new contests for every age group.
Children’s activities on Saturday afternoon feature giant bubble blowing, scavenger hunts, a remote-control car track, water balloon toss and even a pie eating contest open to children ages 5-15.
The “First Annual Ladies Fry Pan Toss,” will run from 2-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and four competition classes, ages 18-29, 30-49, 50-69, and seniors, will compete to see who can throw an 8-inch, 3.2-pound cast iron frying pan the farthest. All frying pans were donated by Lodge Manufacturing, as were the cast iron, 5-quart Dutch ovens the winners of each age bracket will receive.
The winners of each age bracket will proceed to the finals round, which has a cash prize of $250.
“We are encouraging husbands, wives, better halves, supporting significant others, family members to come and cheer on their favorite participants, and we’re encouraging the participants to come in costume, or crazy dressings,” Roberge said.
Adults can also register for one of two cornhole competitions. The first is a family and friends' tournament, which Roberge describes as more congenial with free registration and a top prize of a set of cornhole boards. The second is the “Extreme Competition Cornhole Tournament” which has a $60 entry fee and offers a cash prize of $500.
Agricultural fairs are “an Americana tradition,” he said, adding that the Hamburg Fair, due to its smaller scale, is “a family fair. It’s a safe little fair to bring your kids to and not have to worry about a lot of things.”
Nonetheless, organizers noticed that most attendees only came for a few hours on a single day, so they set out to give people a reason to come multiple days and stay longer.
“We enhanced our entertainment schedule. We’ve expanded our activities,” Roberge said, explaining the elimination of horse and oxen pulls in favor of using the show ring for more broadly attended events. “Now we’ve got stuff of interest scheduled out throughout the weekend.”
If you go:
The fair is offering advance ticket sales for $8 a day for adults; children 11 and under are free.
A schedule of events and links to register for the cornhole tournaments and purchase advance tickets are available on the fair’s website, Hamburgfair.org.