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This week’s edition!

Enough is Enough: Dog days of August usher in Maine’s country fair season

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

The dog days of August are upon us. By the looks of traffic on the road, most of L-A’s population is either on vacation or living at their camps. So this week, let’s keep it light and hopefully entertaining.

August ushers in the start of an American institution, the country fair. Being from away, I grew up in a city dominated by tall buildings and grill hot sidewalks. We were never introduced or aware of country living.

Carnivals were common in the city, springing up in one section of the city and after a few days moving on to another section. Carnivals had an abundance of kiddie rides, over-salted, greasy carney food and the ever-popular games of chance set up to hustle you out of a small fortune in order to impress your beau.

If you wanted to see small, cuddly animals, you were out of luck. There weren’t any! You had to visit a zoo to fulfill that wish.

Years ago, when I once thought Maine was a province of Canada, I was introduced to the Western Maine town of Fryeburg. My former in-laws had a camp on Lovell Pond. Most summer weekends, we packed the clothes and the kids into the backseat and headed north.

It was a two-and-a-half hour drive to Fryeburg, the last leg through Conway, New Hampshire. Normally you’d breeze through Conway and over the border to Maine. Then one day, our normal routine came to a halt. It was Fryeburg Fair week.

To my chagrin, I found the fair was extremely popular with native Mainers and tourists. They willingly braved major traffic issues to reach their objective.

Over the years, I can only remember one incident that even years later still causes me to chuckle. Long gone are the once popular “girlie shows,” which were popular with elderly gentlemen.

The shows were performed inside an oversized trailer. A small stage was located outside the entrance. This was used prior to the show by scantily clad “entertainers” to whet the male appetite and draw them to the performance.

Focusing on the trailer, one could not help but notice the anticipation in the face of an elderly farmer. He had staked out a position at the head of the line. In his hands he tightly gripped two single dollar bills. Two minutes before show time, two “entertainers” came out and shook their booties. They returned inside, followed by a large number of males who appeared to be dedicated patrons of the arts.

What happened next will forever be etched in my mind. About five minutes into the show, an ambulance was called to the trailer. Shortly thereafter, they took the farmer out on a stretcher, placed him in the ambulance and took him to the hospital.

To this day, I have occasionally wondered what happened to him. But there is a lesson here for those men 70 and beyond. Stay away from girlie shows: they’ll put a smile on your face and a pain in your heart.

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