May 18, 2022
Montpelier, US 55 F

Haunted Vermont, Folklore & much more…

Vermont County Fairs and Something Missing?

The colors of autumn are just around the corner. Two things that signal the upcoming Vermont foliage season are country fairs and corn fields with 7-ft cornstalks almost ready for harvest. I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from someone suggesting that I write an article about the declining amount of fun to be had at the Vermont county fairs.

In his words, “none of the fairs have been worth a tinker’s damn ever since the hoot shows went away”. He may be right.

I was in my teens when the last of the girly shows took place at the Orleans County Fair. I was always too young to get in and from what I heard later on, that’s one experience I’m probably better off for missing out on. I did notice that since those infamous “hoot shows” disappeared, the amount of fun things to do at the fairs have also declined.

The “freak shows” are no longer part of the fairs and probably fell victim to the politically correct, “holier than thou” folks who successfully ended the era of the girly shows. Ironic, how these days you can find much more hardcore perversion, indecency and deviant lifestyles every day, just about anywhere in America. Who knows? Maybe all the sensationalism at the fair just became obsolete because it couldn’t keep up with the dose of what we get everyday on TV and in real life, for free. We get Jerry Springer on TV every day so I guess no “freak show” at a Vermont county fair could compete with that.

A recent letter in the Barton Chronicle brings up a question about the lack of amusement rides such as a Ferris wheel and other young adult/adult rides at the Orleans County Fair (aka Barton Fair), which was recently held. The writer has a point. It does seem a bit unusual to have a fair or carnival without the typical Ferris wheel. Is this a sign that the Vermont fairs we all grew up with are on a slow decline towards becoming obsolete? Maybe so. In this economy where costs are skyrocketing and wages are flat or declining, it’s tough for any business or event to stay afloat.

The Champlain Valley Fair is probably Vermont’s biggest fair

Over the years, people gripe that this fair is also “not what it used to be” compared to days gone by. I have noticed that some of the displays that used to take place have dwindled down a bit during the past 10 years but for the most part, the rides, games and of course the food all remain about the same. No “freak shows” anymore though and definitely no “girly show” tents.

I hope this article satisfies the fellow who requested it! Please feel free to add your own comments and thoughts.

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