Field Days 2015 called the ‘best ever”

NEW HAVEN — Buoyed by great weather, improved amenities and a veritable smorgasbord of exhibits, displays, food and carnival rides, organizers of Addison County Fair and Field Days hailed the 2015 edition of the annual event as the best ever.
Field Days board member Kenneth Button was still crunching numbers on Tuesday, but confidently reported at least 40,000 people attended the fair, held at the New Haven fairgrounds from Aug. 4 to 8. Button was one of those in charge of passing out admission bracelets to fair-goers. He and his colleagues passed out 36,700 bracelets during the five-day period. That number doesn’t include several thousand more admissions granted to various volunteers and exhibitors, he noted.
And there were no cases of counterfeit Field Days tickets this year, a problem that surfaced last year.
The fair usually draws around 37,500 attendees per year, according to Button.
“It was the best weather we’ve ever had,” said Button, who has served as a Field Days director for the past 15 years.
Indeed, except for a shower on Tuesday, Aug. 4 (the first day of the fair), Field Days officials couldn’t have ordered better weather for an event that has in the past been seen its share of abuse at the hands of Mother Nature.
“Overall, people were very enthusiastic and satisfied,” Button said of the feedback he received during and following Field Days. “I heard no grumbling.”
He credited Field Days’ dedicated corps of hundreds of helpers as contributing to the positive experience for those who flowed through the gates of Vermont’s largest agricultural fair.
“A lot of people devote the entire week, or more than a week, to Field Days,” he said. “For all that needs to come together, it’s amazing.”
Benj Deppman also serves as a Field Days director. He was ecstatic about the turnout.
“From the Field Days board’s perspective, this was the most successful fair we’ve ever had,” Deppman said. “There was good weather, a great slate of attractions, and everything seemed to come together well this year.”
Deppman cited several reasons for the great turnout this year.
First, he pointed to the slight expansion of the amusement park and related rides, which drew swarms of people. Special “bracelet” packages for rides were offered each day of the fair, as opposed to only a few days, Deppman noted. And he applauded the recent graveling of amusement park roads, an amenity that helped people get around more effectively and comfortably.
Leonard Barrett served again as Field Days grounds manager and did a great job in making sure the entire site was easy to navigate, according to Deppman.
“We try to keep it looking like a country fair,” Deppman said, though directors realize the need to make some allowances for graveling and paving in order to better serve customers. Other improvements this year included a wall and fence at the tractor pad area, as well as additional speakers for the sound system. A 6-foot walkway and apron were also added in front of the tractor event stands.
“I think people were pleased about that,” he said.
Visitors were also impressed with the reconstructed public safety building that allowed adequate space for fire, ambulance and law enforcement vehicles and personnel. During the fair, the building was dedicated to the late James Coons, who served as Addison County sheriff for more than 30 years.
The Field Days board will spend the coming months considering additional improvements to the Field Days grounds, which of course will be based on limited resources. Those upgrades might include expanding the stands near the tractor pad and erecting a building to house the antique tractors and other apparatus, Deppman said. The antique tractors are currently exhibited under a tent.
“We as a board need to figure out where financially it makes the most sense to spend the money,” Deppman said.
Officials noted one complaint — about a bear exhibit. The “Bear Country” exhibit featured animals confined to a trailer. Some observers feared the bears, among other things, were not given enough space and might have been alarmed by the noise of the fair. Others wondered why wild animals, apparently destined for re-entry into the wilderness, were kept in cages on display to gawkers.
Deppman said he and other Field Days directors took a look at the exhibit and determined the bears were comfortable, well fed and in no danger. He said “Orphaned Wildlife,” the nonprofit organization responsible for the exhibit, specializes in caring for orphaned animals and ultimately returning them into the wild.
The bears in the Field Days exhibit, according to Deppman, were born in captivity and therefore will be cared for by the organization for the rest of their lives due to the hazards they might face if released.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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