Agricultural Fairs Celebrate and Preserve Local Culture
Agricultural fairs, primarily established by agricultural societies for the purpose of agriculture promotion, science and education, celebrate New England history and local culture in communities all over western Massachusetts throughout late summer and early fall. These generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities afford families opportunities to participate in intergenerational community-based traditions while offering a myriad of entertainment and learning experiences through the lens of culture and food.
These annual community-based events give learners great insight to the past through current day traditions. Take the time to learn about the long and rich history of our agricultural fairs and you’ll have a renewed way of viewing the many traditions found at each fair. Historical society museums are at some fairgrounds, open during the fair for families to view primary source artifacts and antique equipment displays. Come curious and bring your questions!
Here are 10 upcoming agricultural fairs in western Massachusetts, spanning nearly 200 years of agricultural history!
- Est. 1818, Three County Fair (Northampton): Sept 4-Sept 7 (fair history)
- Est. 1848, Franklin County Fair (Greenfield): Sept 10-Sept 13 (fair history)
- Est. 1855, Middlefield Fair: Aug 14-Aug 16 (fair history)
- Est. 1856, Belchertown Fair: Sept 18-Sept 20
- Est. 1867, Blandford Fair: Sept 4-Sept 7 (fair history)
- Est. 1883, Cummington Fair: Aug 27-Aug 30 (fair history)
- Est. 1923, Littleville Fair (Chester, MA): Aug 7-Aug 9
- Est. 1927, Westfield Fair: Aug 21-Aug 23 (fair history)
- Est. 1969, Heath Fair: Aug 21-Aug 23
- Est. 1973, Adams Fair: Jul 31-Aug 2
Intergenerational opportunities to gather around the table for a community meal with friends and neighbors are available at nearly every fair. From blueberry pancake breakfast to BBQ chicken dinner, there’s something for everyone! Sit with your neighbors and start up conversations. Let your children learn about local history through stories your elderly neighbors might share, make new friends, and walk away with new community connections (and a full belly!).
- Blandford Fair: Friday Meatloaf Dinner; Saturday Baked Ham and Beans; Saturday Barbeque Chicken
- Cummington Fair: Friday Spaghetti Dinner; Saturday Roast Beef Dinner; Sunday Turkey Dinner
- Heath Fair: Friday Church Ladies Ham & Bean Supper; Saturday Chicken Barbeque Lunch; Sunday Blueberry Pancake Breakfast
- Littleville Fair (Chester): Saturday BBQ Dinner
- Middlefield Fair: Saturday Roast Pork Dinner; Sunday Turkey Dinner
- Westfield Fair: Saturday Pulled Pork or Open Faced Turkey Sandwich Lunch; Sunday Shepherds Pie Lunch
Agricultural fairs offers community members of all ages an opportunity to enter items that showcase their talents and expertise in a wide range of categories. (Some fairs have more opportunities for youth to exhibit than others.) Allowing children to show off their hard work and skills are offered, some without necessarily requiring them to create a project specifically for the fair. Categories may include:
- locally grown fruits and vegetables
- poultry and rabbits
- homemade and home-preserved canned goods
- fiber arts and crafts
- nature collections created during summer travels
- paintings created in a school art class
- baked goods
With many exhibition categories reserved specifically for youngsters, exhibition halls offer families the opportunity to share their own work, projects, and produce with others – and the opportunity to share the active role that they have in preserving local culture. See our post, Youth Participation at Agricultural Fairs Learning about History, Agriculture, Science & More.
Special Events & Contests
Fiddle contests to midways. Lumberjack contest to square dancing. Frog jumping contest to Gymkhana… there are a multitude of agricultural and non-agricultural based events hosted at our agricultural fairs that are unique to each one! Some are bygone traditions and some, like midways, are newer traditions. Here’s just a sampling of what you will find this year:
- Adams Fair: Youth Baking Contest; Sheep Dog Demonstrations
- Blandford Fair: Blandford Fair Horse Show; Children’s Old Fashioned Games
- Belchertown Fair: Frog Jumping Contest
- Cummington Fair: Western MA Lumberjack Championship
- Franklin County Fair: Parade; Franklin County’s Got Talent
- Heath Fair: Gymkhana; Square dancing; Fireworks
- Middlefield Fair: Skillet & Chainsaw Throwing; Old Time Fiddlers Contest
- Three County Fair: Battle of the Bands
- Westfield Fair: Demolition Derby; 56th annual “Cap” Porter Memorial Horse Draw