Dept of AG Denies Change of Dates for Northern Maine Fair
NORTHERN MAINE FAIR RELEASES STATEMENT: MAINE DEPARTMENT OF AG DENIES CHANGE OF DATES REQUEST
The Northern Maine Fair Tradition may come to an end in 2019. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Denied the Northern Maine Fair Boards request to change their 2019 dates.
On October 12th the Maine department of agricultural had a hearing to allow testimony in support and in opposition of the date change. The decision was handed down late Thursday afternoon and the board was informed the request had been denied.
It is a sad day when the Maine Department of Agriculture can deny the ONLY 4H and FFA Fair programs north of Bangor. The Fair provides an opportunity and venue for area youth in these national recognized programs to participate in fair related agricultural education events.
The Northern Maine fair is also the only fair north of Bangor to host other important traditional events including; harness racing, the very popular Lil’ Farmer’s At The Fair exhibit, an Open Horse Show, and several others.
Fair President, Lynwood Winslow says, “With this decision, The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry is saying NO to the future of the Northern Maine Fair. They are saying “No” 4H and FFA Kids, “No” to Harness Racing, “and “No” you cannot choose what carnival company to do business with.” He went on to say, “Changing our dates was solely for the purpose of maintaining this 165 year old tradition! It is not, and has never been, about us against another fair!”
The Northern Maine Fair is now 2 1/2 months behind planning next year’s fair. If the Fair Board cannot find an alternative quickly, this 165 year old tradition and these events will cease to exist in the County. In Early August the Fair Board learned their carnival operator, would not be able to return in 2019 during its fairs traditional dates. Smokey’s Greater Shows has signed a contract to provide the Bangor State Fair’s carnival during that same time, leaving the Northern Maine Fair without a carnival provider during its licensed fair dates.
Fair board members quickly went into action to work on options for the upcoming year. During this time Smokey’s greater shows offered them a nine day option from June 28th to July 6th, 2019. In an effort to save the 165 year old tradition, the fair board unanimously chose to pursue new license dates from the Maine Department of Agriculture and stay with Smokey’s who not only brings rides, but brings all of the games and Midway food vendors. A change in carnival provides is a huge risk! Our Community will remember about ten years ago when our carnival provider didn’t show up! The Fair is still recovering from that disaster and the Board firmly decided we are not going down that road again!
The Northern Maine Fair, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization made up of over 600+ members with a 39 member Board of Trustees. It has an attendance of 22,000 fair-goers with an annual budget of over $750,000. The Fair maintains a 65 acre facility with over 39 aging buildings and structures that cost $100,000 each year just to maintain and insure! The Fair depends heavily on gate revenue and the contract fee from the carnival to break even each year and maintain the facility. The Board felt it was necessary to remain a nine-day fair in order to be financially successful in 2019 and beyond.
The combination of the lost revenue from carnival fees paid by Smokey’s Greater Shows, and the loss of gates fees, due to the lack of a carnival, has board members questioning their ability to keep the fair going.
Lynwood Winslow says, “We have to start everything from scratch! We’ve already submitted our harness racing license, which cannot be approved now by the Harness Racing Commission because we don’t have licensed fair dates. It will be very difficult now to get any harness racing dates. In addition, we can’t book any entertainment, we are unable to give our exhibitors, sponsors and vendors a date so they can plan, and a whole lot of other things that should be in place by now.”
The Northern Maine Fair Board will meet early next week to discuss an appeal of this decision and other options.
For more information, please contact Fair President, Lynwood Winslow at 207-227-4690, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org