BLUE HILL — The down-to-earth country fair that is the annual Blue Hill Fair, running this year Thursday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 6, is going digital this year.
That means no more tickets for rides and games, according to General Manager Erik Fitch. The midway will be cashless.
Instead, fair patrons can download an app called Magic Money to their iPhones or Androids to pay for games and rides.
Or, fairgoers can insert cash or a card into Magic Money machines at the fairgrounds and the machines will spit out plastic cards to use for rides and games. The cards can be reloaded.
Fitch said the ride operators will scan the cards or apps, which will reduce contact.
Speaking of contact, the fair has purchased 30 hand sanitizer machines, which will be placed around the grounds so anyone who needs to be sanitized can easily do so. The 2020 fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re expecting huge crowds,” said Fitch. “People are excited to get out.”
A new amusement operator, Cushing Amusements, a family business based in Wilmington, Mass., replaces longtime operator Smokey’s.
There’s a new horse and oxen pulling barn approximately 100 feet long, Fitch said, adding, “It’s huge.”
The new barn has been a joint effort involving a lot of time, materials and money donated by community members. There will be a plaque erected with contributors’ names next year.
Also new this year is a permanent Blue Hill Fair Museum to display artifacts from fairs past, dating back to 1891, Fitch said. This includes historic concert photos and fair posters. If you know of any memorabilia or objects from Blue Hill Fairs past that could be loaned or donated to the museum, call 374-3701.
A Pleasant Street resident has an old granite horse trough from the early days of the fair that he is donating to the fair. The trough, which weighs 2 tons, will hopefully be installed for the 2022 fair.
The fair has a lot of new entertainment, including a performer who eats fire.
The Fire Guy Show performer is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for eating the most fire in a minute, Fitch said.
A wood carving artist, Joe Wenal, doing business as Rocky Mountain Carvers, will be performing four shows a day. Wenal recently moved from Colorado to Orland with his wife, who is a new teacher at George Stevens Academy.
Fitch said the wood carver will take local orders since he’ll be able to deliver them himself to customers instead of trying to ship a sculpture that might weigh 250 pounds.
“I think it will be hugely popular for people who would like some art,” Fitch said.
The Ready Go dog show will perform.
Returning entertainment includes the sheep dog trials, the demolition derby and, absent for a few years now, a blueberry pie eating contest.
“We’re going to set it up closer,” Fitch said of the pie eating. “We’re going to move it so there’s a close-up view of people eating the pies.”
There will also be a blueberry pie and blueberry muffin contest, per usual, but Fitch intends to switch that up for next year.
New this year, instead of a fudge competition, is a whoopie pie contest.
“We’re looking forward to a lot of unique submissions,” said Fitch.
This year, there are plenty of local entertainers.
The Grand’s Hancock County’s Got Talent will be on the grandstand Friday night.
The Emily Young Band and Midnight Rose will perform Saturday night.
Comedian Bob Marley is scheduled to perform Sunday night.
Some things have moved around.
The flower display will be in the fruit and vegetable exposition hall instead of the arts and crafts exhibition.
Thursday will be dollar day again. A dollar admission and a dollar for mechanical rides — loaded onto the Magic Money app, of course.
Friday is Senior Citizen Day. Those 62 and older have $3 admission.
Monday is Wristband Special Day. Ride all the mechanical rides from 11 a.m. to closing time at 7 p.m. for $20 a wristband.
There is one time change. The fair will close at 7 p.m. on Monday, a couple hours earlier than tradition. Fitch explained that most of the vendors have run out of food by that point and children have school Tuesday morning.
Fairgoers should bring their patience with them. Long lines for the food vendors are anticipated as well as lines for parking, the general manager said.
“The storytelling will be longer,” Fitch said.