The Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire | 12 New England Fairs to Visit This FallPhoto Credit : Aimee Tucker
At the first sign of fall, we start anticipating our region’s best agricultural fairs and harvest festivals. This is the season of giant pumpkins, scarecrow contests, cider pressing, tractor pulls, 4-H livestock exhibits, candied apples, and many other fun family attractions and activities. While we don’t have room for a comprehensive list, here’s a round-up of the biggest New England fairs in every state — plus a Yankee editors’ favorite that’s on the smaller side but no less worthy of consideration.
It doesn’t get any bigger in Maine than the weeklong Fryeburg Fair, featuring an impressively large lineup of livestock shows, harness racing, horse pulling, antique farm equipment demonstrations, gardening and cooking contests, a skillet toss, live musical acts, amusement rides, and food. See more at “Scenes from the Fryeburg Fair.”
Be sure to also look for the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, which celebrates the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine with animal exhibits, cooking demos, entertainment, crafts, blacksmithing, farm and fiber marketplaces, a social and political action area, delicious food (many of the vendors are organic), and children’s programming. Hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
The Deerfield Fair dates back to 1876 and bills itself as “New England’s oldest family fair.” It’s also one of the biggest fairs in New Hampshire, with livestock pulls and exhibitions, a demolition derby, pig scramble, sheep shearing, the Miss Deerfield Fair pageant, midway rides, live entertainment, 4-H exhibits, and all your favorite fair food.
We also love the Sandwich Fair, held in the Lakes Region. It features a midway, animal demonstrations and competitions, a skillet toss, and 4-H livestock talks, plus pumpkin carving, oxen pulling, and parades.
EXTRA:More New Hampshire Fairs
The Champlain Valley Fair features 10 days of classic summer fair fun with 4-H events, draft horse driving, horse pulling, cooking contests, fiber arts demonstrations, and the judging of everything from fruits and vegetables to home-brewed beer and Christmas trees. Don’t miss the Coca-Cola Grandstand, where you can catch a big-name concert, circus show, or demolition derby.
The Tunbridge World’s Fair got its name when Burnham Martin, the former Vermont lieutenant governor and state senator, referred to it in 1867 as the “Little World’s Fair.” It offers animal shows, pig races, antique tractor pulls, live entertainment, and various other competitions.
EXTRA:More Vermont Fairs
When it comes to “big” fairs in New England, none are bigger than the Big E in West Springfield, the sixth largest agricultural fair in the entire country. It features the Avenue of the States, butter sculptures, cheese competitions, agricultural events and competitions, midway rides, endless selections of fair food, shopping, top entertainment and musical acts, and more.
The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair offers a unique island agricultural fair experience, complete with rides, games, dog and livestock shows, shucking and husking contests, a skillet toss, pig racing, horse pulls, woodsmen competition, and a fiber arts tent.
EXTRA:More Massachusetts Fairs
The Durham Fair features crafts on the green, carnival rides and games in the midway, animal competitions and discovery events on the Corn Stalk Stage, and lots to eat, plus exhibits showcasing livestock, fruits, vegetables, art, crafts, baking, needlework, photography, and more. Those in search of bigger thrills will love the monster truck rally, lumberjack show (ax throwing, anyone?), and big-name concerts.
The Goshen Fair has wood-cutting competitions, draft horse shows, live entertainment, truck pulls, giant pumpkins, a bustling midway, fair food, and fun events like an adult spelling bee, a hay bale toss, a pie-eating contest, and a skillet throw.
EXTRA: More Connecticut Fairs
The Washington County Fairin Richmond features daily concerts, special acts and events, a giant midway (including New England’s largest traveling roller coaster), the “battle of the fishermen,” agricultural events such as 4-H shows and a goat obstacle course, tractor and horse pulls, and fine arts competitions.
And finally: Although it’s more harvest fair than agricultural fair, Autumnfest in Woonsocket is still plenty of fun. Enjoy a parade, midway, fair food, arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, and a fireworks finale.
Which New England fairs are your favorite to visit in the fall?
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.