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Blandford Fair organizers seek volunteers to help prepare fairgrounds

BLANDFORD-“We’re back!”

“That’s our tagline for this year’s Blandford Fair,” said Greg Girard, vice president of buildings, grounds and concessions.

The Blandford Fair, soon to mark 153 years of entertaining crowds from horse shows and animal rides to an art show and homestyle country dinners, will be conducted Sept. 3-6 at the fairgrounds on North Street.

“The fair has only been forced to cancel during the 1918 pandemic, one year during World War II, during the Flood of 1955, and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Girard.

The iconic Union Agricultural Hall on the Blandford Fairgrounds has last-minute renovations being done at the entrance way. Greg Girard, vice president of buildings, grounds and maintenance, on left, and Matthew Ripley, executive vice president, are overseeing the project. (LORI SZEPELAK PHOTO)

Every Saturday this summer, work crews are needed to help spruce up the grounds, from assisting with painting buildings and mowing to general maintenance tasks and helping complete the building that features the annual art show.

“We are completely renovating the art show building,” said Girard, noting that the floor, doorways and windows still need to be done.

The renovation has been made possible through a $25,000 grant from the Hampden County Improvement League.

“We are making the building environmentally secure so it will last another 100 years,” said Girard.

Greg Girard, vice president of buildings, grounds and maintenance at the Blandford Fairgrounds, notes the building for the annual art show will be ready when the fair opens Sept. 3. (LORI SZEPELAK PHOTO)

On June 26, fair organizers conducted a trial run at the fairgrounds by hosting a horse show, a flea market and tag sale, and a “Touch a Truck” event which also featured a tractor pedal pull for kids.

Reed Spaulding, 5, of Huntington, is all in on moving the pedal tractor pull at the Blandford Fairgrounds on June 26. (LORI SZEPELAK PHOTO)

“We have received positive feedback from people who participated in the festivities,” said Girard. 

While the summer season is just beginning, Matthew Ripley, who serves as the fair’s executive vice president, said he is hopeful that area residents will consider volunteering on a Saturday or two from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. to help those who are sprucing up the grounds.

In addition to the need for helping hands on Saturdays, vendors are also encouraged to apply for a space at the Blandford Fair now.

“We are still looking for crafters and carnival games, as well as businesses offering more unique food choices,” said Ripley.

The deadline to apply is Aug. 1 and inquiries can be made to Girard by sending an email to [email protected]

Ripley also noted that fair officials have increased the premium money for oxen and horses in the hope of attracting more teams.

From enjoying homestyle suppers and viewing barnyard animals to relishing the tasty treats along the midway, the ambiance of the Blandford Fair is quintessential New England.

“We try to provide an educational experience for everyone who comes to the fair,” said Girard.

The Blandford Fair is a nonprofit organization, created by the Union Agricultural and Horticulture Society in 1867. Fair funding is provided in part by the Massachusetts Arts Council and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Agriculture.

For more details on all of the offerings at this year’s fair, visit theblandfordfair.com.  

A host of volunteers are also needed during the four-day fair run in the Youth Hall and Adult Hall, as well as at the gates and during the art show. For more information, inquiries can be made by emailing Girard or calling Ripley at (413) 455-8527.

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