Featured, Local News

170 years at the Vermont State Fairgrounds

Fairgoers adapt to changes, enjoy perennial favorites
By Jimmy Britt
In 1846  the Liberty Bell cracked when it was rung on George Washington’s birthday, the Mexican American War began and Iowa became the 29th state in America.
That same year Vermont held its first State Fair in Rutland, and 170 years later the annual event is still being held. Although the tradition lives on, changes have been made over time, and participants noticed more changes this year. One of the bigger changes this year is a five day schedule instead of 10, and the earlier date — usually the Vermont State Fair includes Labor Day.
“Our dates are determined by the availability of our carnival to cover our fair,” president of the Rutland Agricultural Society Luey Clough said. “It doesn’t look like Labor Day will work for us for a while and we’ll probably stick with these dates and work with the carnival.” Clough added that more people are willing to come to a shorter fair than a 10-day haul.  “What we’ve done this year is combined the 4-H and open shows so there’s a ton more stuff going on at the same time,” Clough continued.
Valerie Badsil, from Rutland, is a 4-H member who specializes in rabbits. She has been a member of 4-H since she was 6 years old and says she continues to enjoy teaching kids about rabbits.
The sugarhouse has been on the fairgrounds for 50 years and is the largest in the state. In it fairgoers can buy products like maple shakes, maple popcorn, maple creemies and traditional products like maple syrup and maple candy. Ed Baker, from North Clarendon, is the president of Rutland County Maple Producers. He is excited that he’s able to help keep not only the tradition of having the sugarhouse at the fair, but also the traditions of creating “firsts” with maple syrup and products.
“We were the first to create the right mixture for making maple cotton candy and we still use the same formula today,” Baker said.
Baker also created a cooler for maple candy that is the first of its kind. “There’s a lot of history from there to here [the past 50 years to present day]. We’ve endured a lot and plan on being here for another 50 years,” Baker said.
For Anthony Patorti of Castleton the fair is a family tradition that he is now passing on to his own family.
“I like this year, it’s better than last year,” he said. “I like the fair food and seeing the car shows, but my little dude likes to play the games.”

Photo by Jimmy Britt
The maple barn is a perennial favorite of Vermont fair-goers. Sweet treats—all made from pure maple— are offered in a variety of foods.

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