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Field Days to offer new entertainment options, animals exhibits, fun and food

NEW HAVEN — The already action-packed Addison County Fair & Field Days schedule will get even more lively this year with new animal showcases, entertainment options and a gubernatorial candidates’ debate.
As usual, Field Days directors will seek Mother Nature’s cooperation in conjuring some clear skies for the annual five-day extravaganza, which this year kicks off on Tuesday, Aug. 10. This year’s Field Days theme will be “Go Local,” an apt moniker for the county’s pre-eminent showcase of homegrown agricultural products and farm organizations.
True to that theme, this year will mark the first time Field Days will have hosted a poultry tent, a venue through which people will be able to enter and view a variety of ducks, geese, pigeons, bantams and other birds.
The dairy cattle, beef cattle, horse, working steer and ox shows remain wildly popular, but Field Days organizers noted a particularly big upswing in people with entries (around 250 in all) in the sheep categories — so much so that the sheep venue has been moved from the carnival area to the larger horse viewing area.
Field Days Board President James Foster Jr. noted the draft horse show is also growing. Last year, 11 six-horse hitches competed in the ring at the same time, according to Foster. A similar field is expected this year, and presenters will be able to earn points for national rankings.
“It is a great atmosphere,” Foster said of the annual fair. “If you are involved with it at all, it is great to see what it takes to bring this five-day event to life.”
The annual fair has given spectators a chance to not only view older farm equipment and tools, but also to see how they were used. Who better to give such a demonstration that Lucien Paquette, founder of the Field Days hand-mowing contest, who as usual will be out cutting brush down to size?
But this year, Paquette (who will turn 94 0n Aug. 14) will have a little help — his 12 sons and daughters have also signed up for the contest to see if they can out-do their legendary pa. Youth, ladies, and 80-and-over participants will mow a 15-foot strip and all others will mow 25 feet. Judging is based on time, width of cut, height and evenness of stubble and evenness at the end of the swath. Everyone gets credit for finishing the course.
Field Days has also become synonymous with food — and not just fried dough, cotton candy, burgers and other typical carnival fare. The annual Taste of Vermont dinner will feature around 20 vendors laying out a spread of local products, noted Field Days Business Manager Cara Mullin.
This year’s fair will also boast some new entertainment.
Buffalo Barfield’s “Unherd of Entertainment,” a variety show, will be a daily fixture in the show tent. The Kevin Brisson Band, a new local group quickly gaining in popularity, will also take to the stage on Thursday evening. Brisson’s songs are described as “a smile-a-second four-wheel-drive Sunday afternoon romp through the muddy ravines of Addison County. The band includes members of local super groups The Grift (Clint Bierman, Peter Day and Jeff Vallone) and Crazy Hearse (Dave Kloepfer).
Also scheduled for Thursday evening will be a WCAX-sponsored gubernatorial debate featuring the five Democrat candidates who will vie in the Aug. 24 primary.
“We will have two donkey shows,” Foster quipped, noting the donkey this year will be represented on-site both in the flesh and as the Democratic Party symbol.
And of course Field Days would not be complete without the No. 1 Auto Parts Demolition Derby on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 11-12.
A full list of 2010 Field Days activities can be found in the Addison Independent’s comprehensive program in today’s edition, and at www.addisoncountyfielddays.com.
The 2009 Field Days drew around 35,000 visits last year amid nice weather. Mullin is hoping this year’s gate will be even better.
“Everybody loves to come out Addison County Field Days,” she said. “People put it on their calendars and plan their vacations around it.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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