Up close look at animals at the fair

  • Visitors get an up-close look at farm animals at the Deerfield Fair. Courtesy of Carole Soule

For the Monitor
Friday, October 06, 2017

It only rained one day at the Deerfield Fair this year. Our hairy cattle didn’t mind the cold, wet weather, but it chilled me to the bone. Most livestock are okay in the cold but humans not so much. Thankfully, the fair had tents and buildings to shelter us frail farmers from the weather.

This year the Deerfield Fair had a special surprise for sheep, goat and llama exhibitors: a new barn. Two huge buildings were built in part of the parking lot to be used by small animal exhibitors. The larger of the two buildings housed livestock and the smaller was used for sales of wool, knit hats, fiber and a show ring all in the spirit of advocating for agriculture.

Yes, the Deerfield Fair and many New Hampshire fairs have a midway with rides that turn you upside down and inside out, but they also are the best place to get up close and personal with livestock. Where else can you pet a cow, scratch a llama or see a Silkie Bantam chicken? At the fair!

After the fair, all of the pens in the new sheep and llama buildings will be removed and the space will be rented for storage of boats, campers, trailers, whatever. These rentals will help pay for the buildings so they will be available each year for farmers and their livestock – true multi-purpose buildings.

Promoting agriculture is not cheap but the Deerfield Fair board of directors found a way to help expand livestock exhibits and pay the bills. We’ve seen fairs struggle this year, the Rochester Fair had to close its doors. It’s not easy to make ends meet for the state’s fairs but Deerfield is working hard to stay in business. Good work guys.

Fairs also help train young farmers. This year at the Deerfield Fair pig scramble, a 12-year-old friend of ours, Caleb, caught a piglet who he named Scarlett. She now lives at Miles Smith Farm and hopefully will become a mother someday. I’ll keep you posted on her progress. Catching piglets to check their health is a skill every hog farmer needs so I told Caleb, when he’s ready, he has a job on my farm.

Meanwhile, I was grateful for cover from the weather as well as hot chocolate on that one blustery, wet day. The rain didn’t keep visitors away for long and the show went on, protected from the weather in barns and shiny new buildings. The Deerfield Fair is all about agriculture in New Hampshire although the fried dough, corn dogs and maple lemonade do add a delicious touch.

(Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at cas@milessmithfarm.com.)