Until next year, fair

The morning air is crisp and the first day of school draws near, but can a Hancock County summer really end without the Blue Hill Fair? Instead of out with a bang, the summer of 2020 is closing on a whimper.

Fair organizers held out until June before making the call. By then it was clear that many of the things that make the fair wonderful are too risky during a pandemic. Bringing multiple generations together alongside visitors from all over, crowds on the midway and in the grandstand and indoor exhibition spaces ill-suited to social distancing all could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Besides the threat of the disease itself, one of the worst things about living through a pandemic is having the good things in life suddenly considered dangerous or even shameful. You can Zoom grandma, but you should not hug her.

2020 will go down as the second time in its 129-year history that the Blue Hill Fair has been canceled. The first time around it took a world war. Here’s hoping that nothing will stand in the way come Labor Day weekend 2021.

The fair’s roots stretch back to the 1870s, when the fields in front of Tucker’s Farm in Blue Hill village bustled with oxen and other livestock, agricultural exhibits and craft displays. The fair was moved to its present location in 1891, after the formation of the Hancock County Agricultural Society. It has grown and evolved since then, but it is still a country fair. Multiple generations of Hancock County residents have attended. The headline entertainment, rides and animals are big draws, but many of us are in it for the food. When the giant donut vendor set up shop in front of the closed gates last Friday, customers waited patiently for more than an hour for their fair food fix.

Vendors, including small businesses and organizations raising money for various causes, rely on fair revenue every year. For farmers and 4-H kids, the livestock area is an opportunity to shine and to network. Artists, gardeners and crafters too can show off their work. There is a wonderful sense of continuity with the past and plenty of opportunity to connect in the present. Chances are you will run into someone you have not seen in a while.

So, Blue Hill Fair, we miss you. Thanks for the memories. We look forward to making new ones next year.

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