GUILFORD – The state’s second-oldest fair – the Guilford Town Fair – returns Friday and runs through the weekend, offering food, entertainment, a parade, and a highlights of the area’s agricultural history.
“I grew up in this town and I have a love for the fair and what it stands for,” said Barbara Hammarlund, director and assistant secretary of the Guilford Town Fair.
She said it’s a way to bring attention to preserving the town’s agricultural heritage, inspired and influenced by her great-grandmother, Rosalie Pekarz.
“She worked her land and that’s how she helped provide for herself. That was kind of her job. My husband and I, the fair’s kind of our life – 365 days a year, we’re talking about the fair,” Hammarlund said.
David Popolizio, who is managing events at the fair, said there will be about 30 food vendors and another 35 commercial and arts and craft vendors.
“It means a lot to me,” he said of the fair. “Some people put 300 to 400 hours a year here.”
The fairgrounds take up approximately 37 acres, and there will be animal farming competitions throughout the weekend, as well as pig races, and 4-H competitions with categories in poultry, rabbits and small mammals, chickens, llamas, cattle, goats, and sheep.
Saturday’s schedule includes an antique tractor pull at 9:30 a.m., the parade at 10 a.m. – starting at the town green and ending at Lovers Lane – Limelight Dance Studio entertainment at 12:30 p.m., and horse drawings at 1 p.m.
“The parade goes for about two hours,” Popolizio said, and it will feature tractors, animals, music from the high school band, and local dignitaries.
Live music will take place throughout the weekend, kicking off Friday at 8:30 p.m. with the Zac Brown Tribute Band. A Billy Joel tribute band and Lords of 52nd Street will perform Saturday, and the Red Light cover band will perform Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Rides and other entertainment like The Flying Wallendas circus and environmental education with Ranger Russ, of Meig’s Point Nature Center in Madison, will round out the weekend.
“I’ve been here 15 years and he’s been here before me,” Popolizio said of Ranger Russ, or Russell Miller, an environmental protection maintainer with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“Our exhibit is related to things found in Connecticut,” Miller said. “We educate people about the Connecticut environment and wildlife. We’ll do a pollution exhibit, live reptiles, snakes and turtles.”
He said there will be a few new displays this year, including a horseshoe crab display and a feature where guests match animal fur and skulls with animal silhouettes.
“I think these fairs are a great opportunity for DEEP to make people aware of state parks,” he said. “There are 142 parks and forests across the state of Connecticut. There is no resident of Connecticut more than 15 minutes away from a state park.
The fair runs Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.