Massachusetts

The Franklin County Fair in Greenfield, MA | “The Oldest Continuously Operating County Fair in America”

Farm animals, prize-winning produce, and classic fair foods make the Franklin County Fair in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a fall tradition.

By Annie Graves

Aug 29 2019

Franklin Country Fair

Through the gates, the roundhouse waits…

Photo Credit : Annie Graves
I began hearing buzz for the Franklin County Fair when I stopped at Mim’s Market in Northfield, 15 miles from the fairgrounds in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for one of Mim’s infamous donuts, just in case I didn’t meet my full quota for fried stuff that day.
Mim's Market
Before you head to the Franklin County Fair, stop in for a donut at Mim’s Market.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Sadly, the donut was stale (the chocolate ones are best), but at least my appetite was primed. Seems everyone in Mim’s was on their way to the fair, had already gone, or was planning to swoop in later that day.
Franklin Country Fair
Through the gates, the roundhouse waits…
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Billed as the oldest continuously operating county fair in America, the Franklin County Fair (September 5-8, 2019) started as a cattle show on the Town Common in November of 1848. It prides itself on having survived “world wars, dust bowl droughts, even stock market collapses.” I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. Plus, despite being pretty firmly ensconced in the country, I’d never actually been to a country fair. It seemed overdue.
Franklin Country Fair
Franklin County Fair show ring.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
As it turns out, cows are still very much in the picture.
Franklin Country Fair
Competing at the Franklin County Fair.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Competition was stiff, and the ribbons were flying. There wasn’t a lot of chit-chat, but it was a pretty interesting instant immersion into a totally foreign world. The judge would run her hands over an animal, grab in what I would term inappropriate places, and then hand out a ribbon. My own judging ran more along the lines of “oooh, nice cow” or “pretty eyes” or “she looks friendly.” Animal judging can be exhausting, and some of the participants were taking a time out…
Franklin Country Fair
Fairs are exhausting…
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Nobody likes to be judged. Over time, the Franklin County Fair has changed, of course. There’s a lot going on now that wouldn’t have made much sense to a farmer back in the 1800s.
Franklin Country Fair Midway
Midway through the Midway at the Franklin County Fair.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
The Midway here is pretty cute for the most part, although some of the booths make you stop and ponder.
Franklin Country Fair Booth
Really?
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
And raise some fairly existential questions…like how IS it possible to live without a head? Who would not be blinded — or possibly enticed — by these colors?
Franklin Country Fair
Waiting for customers.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Naturally, there’s a lot of colorful food, too.
Franklin Country Fair
Ah, dough…
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
I’m tempted to put the word food in quote marks, but it’s such a cheap shot that it’s hardly worth the time it takes to type I just hit the motherlode of trans fats.
Franklin Country Fair
Even the mustard and ketchup fit in
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Imagine that 1800s farmer wondering, “What’s an onion bloom?” Or, on another note, and perhaps even more fantastically, “What’s a Frisbee-catching dog?”
Franklin Country Fair Frisbee Dog
Frisbee-catching dogs at the Franklin County Fair.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
For more than 15 years, the wiry Mike Piazza and his Flying High Frisbee Dogs have been making the circuit, and he’s quick to tell the audience that he’s a multiple world finalist, and that he’s performed for the NBA, NFL, Animal Planet, and ESPN.
Franklin Country Fair
Mike and frisbee-loving friend.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
His lightning-fast dogs work the crowd like pros, with an intensity of focus that’s awe-inspiring. They’re just about impossible to catch in motion. Not so much Robinson’s Racing Pigs.
Franklin Country Fair Pigs
You read it right…
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
The young Vietnamese potbellies are adorable, and about as motivated as a three-year-old. Ambling around the track only when pointedly followed by a man I assumed was Mr. Robinson, they did seem to revive in the water.
Franklin Country Fair Pig Racing
Pig racing. Sort of…
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
There were Shriner Clowns to be seen…
Franklin Country Fair
Clowns need a break to enjoy the fun, too.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
and a pretty, young aerialist from the New England Center for Circus Arts, in Brattleboro, Vermont, who swooped and twirled and made us feel earthbound.
Franklin Country Fair
Twirling above the crowd.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
And finally, there was a mouth-watering display of award-winning bounty in the roundhouse.
Franklin Country Fair
Tomatoganza at the Franklin County Fair.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
Hard to pick a winner with this much natural beauty.
Franklin Country Fair
Blue-Ribbon apples.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
It sort of brings us full circle, back to the essence of it all. What hasn’t changed is that a country fair brings everyone together, draws folks out of the woodwork, entertaining us in a way that proves we’re not too good to watch pigs race, laugh at Shriner clowns, or marvel at our reflection in the eyes of a prize-winning cow.
Franklin Country Fair
Some cow.
Photo Credit : Annie Graves
People still love a good fair, and the Franklin County Fair is one of New England’s best. Have you ever been to the Franklin County Fair? It’s taking place September 5-8, 2019. Don’t miss it! This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.

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