Behind the scenes at the Deerfield Fair

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Yelena Beausoleil

Mornings come early to farmers showing livestock at the annual Deerfield Fair, New England’s oldest family fair and an event that this year celebrated its 140th anniversary.
The four-day fair draws a number of Concord High School students, including some who work for their family farms or help staff concession booths that keep thousands of visitors fed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. three days out of four.
At left, a young farmer helps with feeding her family’s cows, carrying a big bundle of hay across the pathway to her stall after her dad got clean shavings from the shavings pile rush just in front.
Too young to wield a wheelbarrow, the girl stood to the side and watched as a lot of people maneuvered wheelbarrows close and let fly with shovels.
Though the Deerfield Fair ended Oct. 2, the fairgrounds will remain busy in coming weeks with the following scheduled events: Winter Storage Take-in Days October 22, 29 and Nov. 5, the Catamount 5K Race Nov. 6, and a Christmas Stroll Dec. 3.
See the Deerfield Fair website for additional information.
img_2029When the fair is in session, farmers scramble hours prior to the 8 a.m. opening to care for animals who at minimum need clean bedding, food and water.
Every morning between 5:30 and 6 a.m., dump trucks from around town driven by Paul Smith and Mark and Glenn Young come to the barns. Jeff Smith, Paul’s son, works a front end loader to clean up the manure piles and drop large piles of clean shaving by each barn.
Partners race with wheelbarrows and shovels. One gets a wheelbarrow into the mix and the other starts heaving shavings.
Most of the large farms go to multiple New England fairs, starting in the summer and ending late in the fall.
About 35 cattle farms attend the Deerfield Fair every year showing beef cattle, dairy cattle, and oxen.
Other animals include horses, pigs and sheep. Visitors can also look at a wide variety of poultry.
img_1985A farmer and helper, left, walk a Pinzgauer cow and calf out of the beef barn to the cattle washing station around 5:30 a.m. Days begin at 5 a.m. for farmers and for future farmers too. 4-H shows begin at 9 a.m. and animals have to be ready to be shown by then. Preparation includes bathing, blow drying, brushing and even shaving the cows if necessary.