Once upon a time, as a parent of 3 young children, I used to dread the thought of taking my kids to big Summer Fairs - Norwich, Cornish, or Tunbridge, for example. Too many expensive, noisy rides with ticket-takers who looked like extras off the set of "True Blood." Filthy concession trailers selling fried dough and huge platters of French fries with that slightly acrid, grainy ketchup. Games with stuffed-animal prizes several times larger than the kids trying to win them (thankfully no one ever did, or does). Herding children for miles through the field parking lot, slowly being enveloped by a thin film of fine, gray dust. And the sheer terror of LOSING a kid to the surging crowd...
The Hanover Center Old-Timer's Fair, held on the Hanover Center Common this coming Friday evening and Saturday, offers none of the above. Now in it's 53rd year, the Fair is sponsored by the First Congregational Church of Hanover (yes, Hanover Center was the original Center of Hanover). Originally conceived as a way for struggling farmers to get together and share ideas while having a bit of fun, the Old-Timer's Fair still features a 4H livestock demo (5pm on Friday) and an honest-to-goodness ox pull on at 11am on Saturday. There are old-fashioned children's games, a great book sale at the Church, and a "white elephant" tag sale ongoing during the festivities. Food is available throughout, culminating with the BBQ chicken dinner at 1pm on Saturday. Well, yes, they DO sell French fries, cotton candy, and ice cream; this IS a Summer Fair, after all!
Friday night from 7 - 8:30, washed-up remnants of the mythical "Breakfast of Champions" bluegrass band will be performing live on the Main Stage. Anchored by the inimitable duo of Gary Hubbard and Jay Boucher, this "New Breakfast" will get your feet tapping and, before you know it, you'll be mouthing the words to a breakneck Bluegrass version of "The Sounds of Silence" or "Palisades Park." Your kids will think you've lost your mind, but that's better than you losing your kids!
And finally, you can witness community involvement at its finest, with several generations of Hanover Center's Hawthorne family (among others) staffing the whole enterprise with boundless energy and aplomb. Patriarch Donnie Hawthorne- who for many years ran the Shell station across from the Co-op Food Store in Hanover - got involved over 40 years ago as a way to help raise much-needed building-improvement funds for the Church. It was a way for parishioners and non-parishioners alike to help raise funds for one of the Town's main gathering-places, a cause that's every bit as relevant today as it was back in 1961.
See you there!