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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Antique John Deere Tractor in Durham Fair Farm
Antique John Deere Tractor in Durham Fair Museum. Photo: Al Benner

Durham Fair

Connecticut's largest agricultural fair began in 1916 on the Village Green. The first parade stretched for more than a mile with floats, boys and girls on horseback, and a large number of oxen. In 1920 the first amusement ride, a merry-go-round, was added. Over the years, the fair's agricultural emphasis has been enhanced with the addition of new and enlarged exhibit facilities. A key factor in maintaining the character of the fair has been respect for its heritage. The Farm Museum is a key example of that. In the early 1970s, the Durham Fair Association began collecting antique farm equipment, which is exhibited in the museum, located on the fair grounds. Its collection comprises antique tools, household goods, machinery, carriages and sleighs, and Durham Fair memorabilia.

The fair has grown over the years. Forty-five acres adjacent to the Village Green was purchased to expand the fair grounds, and musical entertainment, which once featured local bands, now showcases nationally known music stars, primarily country. To ensure the fair's future vitality and spirit, the Durham Fair Youth Organization was organized in 1999 to encourage young people to participate in fair operations.

Project documentation comprises a six-page essay; the booklet, "Fifty Years of Community Effort: Durham Fair Association;" a fair book, program and map; a museum brochure; a 1999 fair bumper sticker; and a 1916 Durham Fair Premium List (prizes) reproduction.

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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