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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Children handle a LARGE snake at the 1999 fair.
A reptilian moment at the 1999 Orange County Fair. Photo: Gregory Mulherin

The Orange Country Fair

A suburb of New Haven, the Town of Orange has a small size (17.6 square miles) and population (13,000) which have allowed it to maintain the charm of an open-space rural community. The town's first agricultural fair was held on September 15, 1898, on the Town Green. Exhibits included displays of local fruit and vegetables, fancy work, bed quilts, knitted and crocheted articles, canned goods and jellies, livestock and poultry. There was a weight-pulling contest for oxen, a Grand Parade, horse racing, a balloon ascension and a parachute drop. After 1912, interest in the Fair began to wane, and the fair died soon after. In 1975, the nation's Bicentennial sparked an interest in reviving the event, and the first revitalized fair took place on September 13-14, 1975. The new fair was a great success, and has been ever since: the fair celebrated its 25th anniversary in September 1999. Like the early Orange fair, today's event is also primarily agricultural, and features horse and oxen pulls, tractor pulls, pigeon racing, milking, sheep shearing, craft demonstrations, and exhibits of flowers, fruits, vegetables, baked goods and animals. Greased-pole and pie-eating contests delight the children, as well as one of the largest snake and reptile exhibits in the East. The Orange Fair has been awarded first prize for its fair book four times by the Connecticut Association of Fairs.

Included the project documentation is a five-page report detailing the history of the Orange Country Fair; a 1999 fair book; 28 photographs relating to the fair; information on the Orange Historical Society, and a videocassette of the 1999 fair.

Originally submitted by: Rosa L. DeLauro, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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