A sun-splashed day of gratitude, promise and hope as Rochester Fair opens

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An emotional Jenny Gosselin of Rochester accepts an award from longtime fair manager Mark Perry as other fair volunteers look on during Thursday's opening ceremonies. (Rochester Voice photos)

ROCHESTER - Last year after a one-year hiatus due to financial problems, the big headline in The Rochester Voice as the Rochester Fair opened was, "It's back!"

This year it's a slightly different headline. This year the takeaway from the fair's first day is, "IT'S BACK!!!"

Back with more vendors, more and different interesting shows and exhibits, even back with the state's governor to get the party started.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu chats with the Bilodeau family of Lebanon, Maine, who played patriotic and bluegrass songs prior to the fair's opening on Thursday.

"This is my first time to the fair as governor," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said just prior to opening ceremonies, "and this is an incredible time of year here in New Hampshire."

He told The Rochester Voice the city of Rochester was "booming," not just because of the fair but the whole town thanks to infrastructure improvements that have been made.

Longtime Fair Ambassador Joel Sherburne waves from the cab of a tractor as he arrived to officially open the Rochester Fair on Thursday.

While welcoming the crowd, he gazed across the midway to a circus tent and quipped, "And I'm looking over there and I see two giraffes, so you know you're at The Rochester Fair."

The opening ceremony began with longtime fair ambassador Joel Sherburne arriving on a tractor driven by longtime and current unofficial fair manager Mark Perry and escorted down Lafayette Street by a police cruiser driven by Rochester Police Sgt. Tom Powers.

During the ceremony Perry presented plaques to several fair volunteers who have given their time and hard work to the fair for 50 or more years including Sherburne, office worker Patty Dunlap and ticket booth attendant Jenny

CHAIR AND CHAIR ALIKE: Emily Lorenzo, 3, of Berwick, Maine, is offered a seat in a bunny carving gone awry that doubles as chair, but defers her gift to a Patriots bear she got from her mom during the Great Maine Lumberjack Show.


Playing traditional bluegrass and rustic music in the background was the talented Bilodeau Family of Lebanon, Maine. The family will play again at the fair on Friday from 5-6 p.m.

Meanwhile, vendor participation in the Exhibition Hall was back to its old self after a down year last year due to uncertainty with the hall's occupancy permits.

Back were many of the fair's longtime vendors including Southern Maine Tool and Rental of Lebanon and Winfrey's Homemade Fudge and Hand Crafter Chocolates of Rowley, Mass.

WATERLOGGED: One logger gets ready to take a dip after she's bested by her competitor during The Great Maine Lumberjack Show at the Rochester Fair on Thursday.

Fair organizers had worried over Thursday's weather, which started out cloud-covered and threatening. But by 3 p.m., an hour before the fair officially opened, the clouds cleared and a beautifully crisp-feeling fall day unfolded. Folks in the sun enjoyed the warmth while those in the shade pulled out a sweater if they had one.

One of the new amusements was the Great Maine Lumberjack Show just north of the Lafayette Street entrance. The show featured several lumberjacking events including crosscutting and underhand ax cutting as well as the popular log rolling competitions in which two lumberjacks stand atop a log and try to roll their opponent into the water. Luckily, they were in the sun.

The fair continues today with the highlight being the Monster Trucks at 7 p.m.

Check for more scheduling info.

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