PLYMOUTH - Saturday was a perfect day to enjoy the rides, varied entertainment, and many fried foods of the 69th annual Terryville Lions Country Fair.
“What beautiful weather,” said Tom Zagurski, fair president. “The crowd came out last night and it’s building nicely today. Everything is going well.”
The fair continues today, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fairgrounds are located on Town Hill Road, Terryville.
Zagurski pointed out improvements made to seating around the food pavilion this year.
“Last year is we had a tent in front of the pavilion, it was blocking it too much so a lot of people didn’t seem to know it was there,” he said. This year smaller tents with seating were positioned away from the pavilion, and picnic tables with umbrellas were placed in front to make it more visible.
The fried dough window was blocked, “so a lot of people didn’t realize we were even selling fried dough,” he added. “This year we did notice a good sale increase in our fried dough last night.”
Central Maine Pyrotechnics provided the fireworks show Friday night and was set to do it again Saturday, he said. “What a fantastic fireworks show, they’ve done a really good job for us. The truck pull went off well Friday and we had a good selection of bands which a lot of people showed up for.”
Dave Boilard was in charge of the fairground’s new chicken barbecue pavilion, recently built in time for the fair.
It has a brand new barbecue pit for the chicken and the roast beef barbecue pit was moved inside, he said. “It’s a nicer, bigger place to work, and we can seat more people. We’re just asking that people come on down and enjoy the fair.”
“It’s a wonderful fair, beautiful weather, wonderful crowds,” remarked Jackie Merchant, wife of Mayor David Merchant. “The Lions Club and every vendor here should have a terrific year.”
She was strolling by the many food trucks that offered such popular fair fare as fried Oreos, fried peanut butter and jelly and fried pickles. Among non-fried options were lobster rolls, loaded baked potatoes, buffalo burgers and ice cream.
Over in the entertainment area, a crowd was enjoying the show put on by the Axe Women Loggers of Maine.
MC Mike Wetherbee was introducing the Underhand Chop Competition, as competitors Alissa and Alexis held up axes to show off the shining, sharp blades.
“The ladies are using some of the sharpest axes you’ll find anywhere in the world, made by Tuatahi in New Zealand,” he said. “Very expensive. They are also very heavy, we’re talking six to seven pound axe heads. The quality assurance test at Tuatahi is literally before they go out the door the guys take them and run the blade down their arm like a razor to shave the hair off their arm.”
Log segments, peeled of bark, were set on small stands. The women stood on top and on command began swinging as fast as they could to chop the wood right below where they were standing.
“Make sure you cheer them on through the whole event, that helps get the adrenaline going,” Wetherbee told the receptive crowd.
Moving fast and furious Alexis managed to chop through her log first, as Alissa was slowed down by an internal knot in her log.
“Not easy work, good chopping!” Wetherbee told the competitors. “Who thinks these ladies are crazy for swinging an ax that heavy and that sharp so close to their feet? Well they’re not that crazy, beneath their shoes they’ve got chain mail socks - the same material they use in shark suits and butcher gloves.”
Laurette, another one of the Axe Women, brought around an example of a chain mail sock for the crowd to see and touch.
“Timber sports have been around for over a hundred years,” Wetherbee explained. “But you won’t see them in the Olympics because if equipment is used in an Olympic event it has to meet certain standards so that everybody has an even chance and the best athlete wins.”
“In timber sports the equipment is basically the log you get plus the chopping and sawing equipment. You get assigned a log, and you don’t know what’s inside it until you start chopping or sawing. An internal knot to an ax blade can be just as bad as a piece of steel or a rock, it will chip an ax blade,” he said.
“Now, you guys ready to see some log rolling?” he said, as the enthusiastic crowd yelled “yeah!”
For more information, visit www.terryvillefair.org .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.