August 27, 2012

Perfect day opens Windsor Fair

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

WINDSOR — Blue skies, cheerful vendors and squawking chickens greeted attendees Sunday for the opening day of the Windsor Fair.

click image to enlarge

Madelyn Lash, 2 of Waterville, watches the pumpkin contest weigh-in on Sunday morning at the Windsor Fairgrounds. The Windsor Fair continues through Labor Day and the fairgrounds are located on state Route 32 near the intersection of state Route 17.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

Kate Miller hangs up prizes at her Maggie's Duck Pond game booth on Sunday morning at the Windsor Fairgrounds. The Windsor Fair continues through Labor Day and the fairgrounds are located on state Route 32 near the intersection of state Route 17.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan


Gate opens to the public every day at 9 a.m. Admission: adults, $7, under 16, free, Aug. 26–30 and Sept. 3; adults, $9, younger than 16, free, Aug. 31–Sept. 2.


16th Annual Woodsmen’s Day

Admission: senior citizens (60-plus), $3

Harness horse racing – post time 3 p.m.

9:30 a.m., Woodsmen’s field day events

5–6:30 p.m., Four-wheel drive pickup; $20 entry fee


Horsemen’s Day

Harness horse racing – post time: 3 p.m.
9:30 a.m., Farmers’ ox pull

6 p.m., Pig scramble — 8-year-olds

7 p.m., Mini-modifieds, street-stock diesel pickups and stock and hot farm tractors

8 p.m., All-terrain four-wheel-drive-only pull 


Vendor Appreciation Day

Harness horse racing — post time 3 p.m.

10 a.m., Steer pulling

1-5 p.m., Apple pies registration

6 p.m., Maine two-crusted apple pie contest 

6 p.m., Pig scramble — 9-year-olds

7 p.m., Super and stock farm tractors, pro-stock diesel and 2x4 and 4x4 super-stock trucks


Senior Citizens & Veterans Day

Admission: senior citizens (60-plus), $3

Harness horse racing — post time 3 p.m.

10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., sheep dog demonstration

5 p.m., Parade of Champions: overall grand champion dairy
6 p.m., Pig scramble — 10-year-olds 

7 p.m., Demolition derby


Livestock Appreciation Day

Admission: adults, $9; younger than 16, free

Harness horse racing — post time 3 p.m.

1 p.m., Horse pulling — 3,000 lbs. and under distance pull
2 p.m., Windsor Fair charity beano game

7:30 p.m., Don Campbell Band

Fireworks following show


4-H Day

Harness horse racing — post time 1 p.m.

10 a.m., Antique tractor show and demonstration 

7 p.m., Painted pumpkin face contest

7 p.m., Children’s baking contest

7:30 p.m., Hotel California, admission $5


Museum and Children’s Day

Harness horse racing — post time 1 p.m.

11:30 a.m., Kiddie tractor pull

3 p.m., Animal costume class

4 p.m., Political pull (cow-milking contest)

5 p.m., Bicycle drawing — 10 free bicycles

7:30 p.m., Bob Marley, admission $5

Monday, Sept. 3

Harness horse racing, post time 1 p.m.

10 a.m., Horse barrel racing

11 a.m., Antique car show and parade, MoAL members only

For the complete schedule, visit

The contests got off to a hefty start with an early-morning weigh-in of giant pumpkins and squash.

The enormous contenders required a New Holland skid-steer loader to pick them up and place them gently on the scales.

Smaller entrants were moved by a seven-man squad holding onto handles sewn into a heavy canvas tarp.

Kathy Skehan, of Litchfield, couldn't contain her joy and surprise when her giant pumpkin weighed in at 820 pounds to get top prize in the adult division.

"It was supposed to be between 600 and 700," she said.

It was a personal best for her, requiring a lot of assistance from her husband Mark and coming after seven seasons of growing giant pumpkins. Both Skehans wore T-shirts touting the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization.

"There's one more in the field," she said. "If God's willing, it's going to go to Sanford."

There, she's likely to compete again against Al Berard of Sanford who placed top in the squash category with a 644-pound green giant. Berard took firsts in both categories in 2011. He was the first to shake Kathy Skehan's hand and congratulate her.

Brothers Logan Wood, 11, and Cody Wood, 8, of Jefferson, took the top two spots in the children's category for giant pumpkins. The children's category includes those up to age 12.

A couple of jack o'lanterns were entered as well, most of them still green rather than the more traditional orange.

Logan's nice, orange pumpkin weighed in at 313 pounds; Cody's weighed 236 pounds.

Cody provided a snapshot of his technique: "I gave it water, five gallons up to 10 gallons, and I gave it a couple pounds of horse and cow manure."

Logan used manure and a sprinkler and made sure to cut off all other pumpkin blossoms from the vine. "I just let two grow," he said. "It makes that one weigh more."

The adults shared tips as well. They watered, fertilized, protected, cushioned and babied their giant gourds, spending hours a day tending them.

They pick them at the last possible moment, allowing them to soak up and retain as much water as possible, and they move them, generally by strap and tractor, to pickup-truck beds for the ride to the fair.

Dylan Botbyl, 18, of Windsor, is still perfecting his squash-growing technique. He's taken second place in the squash category three times. "I haven't really placed in the pumpkins yet," he said.

Another entrant, Dana Wrigley, of Oakland, placed fourth with his 407-pound giant pumpkin. He explained that a squash entry can be only gray and green. "If there's a white or cream color or orange, it goes under pumpkin," he said.

Darrell St. Jean of Windsor sat at a picnic table, handing out tags and collecting paperwork from entrants, helping his grandfather, Al Turner, run the event.

The entries in the 2012 Giant Pumpkin / Squash contest remain on display throughout the fair. They're near the administration building, alongside a barn featuring a variety of animals, including pairs of turkeys and geese, small goats and a flock of chickens squawking and obviously hoping to peck into the pumpkins.

Nearby on the fairgrounds, commercial vendors and others cranked up propane stoves, turned on refrigerators and prepared booths as they awaited the crowd.

At "Maggie's Duck Pond," Kate Miller of Portsmouth, N.H., stood atop a step ladder hooking neon-colored stuffed animals to chains hanging from the poles supporting a tent top.

Miller had just dismantled her booth at the Union Fair, which closed Saturday. Many other vendors did the same.

A few horses took turns trotting around the track, getting exercise as they readied for the afternoon harness races, and ignoring the water truck, which was sprinkling the dirt track.

Arthur Strout, maintenance director for the fair, was pleased with the sunshine. Last year's opening day was canceled by Tropical Storm Irene.

"I hope there's no rain for nine days," said Strout, who is also Windsor's fire chief.

The schedule and more information about the fair is available at

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