Field Days parade celebrates fair favorites
NEW HAVEN — As the sun set Tuesday night, the first day of the Addison County Fair and Field Days came to a triumphant close with the annual opening parade, a tradition as old as the fair itself.
The parade featured more than 25 groups, each eager to share their favorite thing about Field Days, the theme for the 2016 parade.
“My favorite thing about Field Days is all of it.” said Rustan Swenson, drum major for the Seth Warner Mt. Independence Fife and Drum Corps. “I’m serious, everything, I love it all.”
Swenson stood ready to march in full revolutionary garb at the head of a group of 10 drummers and fifers, the youngest 11 and the oldest — Swenson himself — 74.
Swenson and the rhythmic reenactment participate in the parade each year, marching and playing traditional music from the American Revolution. They’re also well known across Vermont.
“We play in parades all the way from Montpelier to Bristol and Brandon,” Swenson explained.
Also familiar with Vermont’s parade routes are Rylee Field, Miss Vermont 2016, and Alexandra Diehl, Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen 2016. While the two are staples in parades throughout the state this summer, this was their first time waving to the crowds at Addison County’s Field Days.
“This was new, and so fun for us,” exclaimed Field, a Montpelier resident, as she sat perched on the back of a pickup truck, adorned in crown and sash.
Although new to Field Days, the two had already discovered their favorite things.
“I love to see all these kids out with the horses,” said Diehl, a St. Albans resident. “I’m all about fitness for Vermont’s children and this is fantastic.”
“I’m much better with the children than I am with the horses,” chimed in Field. “And of course, we’re both all about the food. There’s nothing better than fair food.”
Taborri Bruhl, walking with the Addison County Democrats, would agree.
“I like a lot about Field Days,” the New Haven resident said. “Definitely the tractor pulls and the demolition derby, but also the ribs and the beer tent. I’ll be here every evening for those.”
Bruhl, who successfully staged a write-in campaign earlier in the day to get his name on the ballot for state representative in the Addison-5 House district, was joined by supporters and Sens. Claire Ayre and Christopher Bray. The trio and fellow Democrats passed out stickers and held signs calling for support.
The Addison County Republicans did the same a few feet in front of Bruhl and his crew, a display of political spirit on what was coincidentally Primary Election Day in Vermont.
The parade line-up also included, among others, the Vergennes City Band; the Cairo Clowns, a duo squeezed onto a golf cart; Jim Amblos’ Miniature Horses; Lucien Paquette celebrating his 100th birthday and the Salisbury Swamp Riders, a local 4-H club driving five sheep along.
A long line of tractors old and new followed as the parade meandered from the tractor pad, through the center of the food and exhibit tents, in front of games and rides and finished back where it started.
As the groups in the parade filed back onto the tractor pad, the sun was down and the parade crowds dispersed. But it was still up to the team of directors, led by Benj Deppman, to choose the top three participants.
Deppman’s voice rang out over the fair grounds as he congratulated the Vergennes City Band for third place, the Jim Amblos Miniature Horses for second and the Salisbury Swamp Riders for first.
But it seemed that parade participants were already back to the fair, too busy enjoying the high-flying rides and sizzling fried dough to give much notice.
The 68th annual Addison County Fair and Field Days runs through Saturday evening in New Haven.
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