A Beautiful Drive to the Sandwich Fair
October 18, 2019
by Shawn N. Jasper, New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
The fair season, which started on a miserably hot July weekend in Stratham, ended on a beautiful fall day in October. I was pleased to be able to attend all of our state’s Agricultural Fairs, and personally handout the Commissioner’s Award for the best promotion of agriculture. While I am glad that it is over for the year, I look forward to doing the same next year.
There is no question that the last few miles of the drive to Sandwich are the most beautiful miles that I have driven this year. The colors were just about perfect and the winding roads which passed by the lakes and farm estates, made me wish I lived there. Unfortunately, the pleasantry of the drive ended too soon as I approached the fairgrounds. I have a fraternity brother who grew-up in Sandwich and I had planned on stopping by his dad’s house where he was visiting. It took me over 15 minutes to drive 900 feet to turn onto his road. It seems that the world has found the Sandwich Fair.
After a short visit and making plans to meet my friend and his dad at the fair later, I headed back into the traffic. I thought I would be able to park at the office, but when I finally arrived there, the lines of people waiting to get in ended that idea. All the surrounding lots were full and the any idea of turning around were soon ended by the stalled line of traffic headed back into town.
I knew that there were parking lots on the backside of the fair, but I had no idea of how to get there. So, on I drove looking for the right-hand turn I knew I needed to make if I had any hope of getting there. After a few miles I found a well-maintained dirt road and took a gamble, I followed that through the gorgeous countryside for a few miles more until it turned to pavement and after two more right hand turns, I ended up at the back entrance of the high, but wet parking lot for the tractor pulling event.
It took me a while to make my way to the office to let the officials know I was there. I always thought that mid-afternoon at the Deerfield Fair was crowded, but I think that Sandwich exceeded it when it came to people per square foot. While the people were still coming in by the droves, the officials were confident that they would be setting a one-day attendance record. I never was able to find my friend and his father or even any cell service. In fact, I only ran into two people I knew, which was unusual to say the least. One of them was the Wolfeboro Chief of Police who was working security.
One of the things that I know people come to see is the Sunday parade; it took 15 minutes for everything to pass by. I know of no other place where a Concord Coach is hitched to a team of horses and paraded around, the occupants were all in period costumes, making it all the more special. There were two high school marching bands, one of which almost didn’t make it due to the unusual amount of traffic, which is probably why the parade was a bit late in starting. I got a kick out of the “over the hill hikers” who were followed by a float carrying the “way over the hill hikers.” There were plenty of tractors and oxen of all sizes in the parade as well.
This year the Commissioner’s Award went to the Merrimack County 4-H Swine Club. Even though I had given the same group the award at the Belknap County Fair earlier in the year, there was no question in my mind that they had done the best job of displaying their animals and providing the best educational information of any one at the fair. I am told that the group is made-up of 4-H members from all around the state, so there were members there who had not been at Belknap.
On a final note, while the Lancaster Fair is set in a beautiful location on a flat field overlooking the mountains, the Sandwich Fair is in a location and held at a time of year that, for my money, can’t be beat. The colors of the surrounding rolling countryside are spectacular. It was well worth the drive around Robin Hood’s barn to find a place to park, but you can be sure that next year I will be heading up north a whole lot earlier in the day.