No one would ever confuse the Fryeburg Fair with Burning Man. These two events attract scores of people to rural areas. One is held on the Right Coast and the other, fittingly, on the Left Coast. On the surface, the two fairs appear to be polar opposites. Or are they?
“You are coming back for the Fryeburg Fair this year? It is not to be missed. I take the whole week off from work. One day at the fair is not enough!” This is a conversation that occurs frequently among part-time and permanent Maine residents. The Fryeburg Fair is a Sunday to Sunday, eight day extravaganza, originally founded as the West Oxford Agricultural Society in 1851. The fair attracts over 300,000 attendees, roughly one quarter of the state. People flock to see the world’s largest steer and oxen exhibit, wager bets during the six days of harness racing, salivate over New England homemade edibles, watch craft demonstrations, learn about agriculture, view livestock which includes everything from draft horses to unicorns (listed in the brochure). There are tractors pulls, nightly entertainment and the famous midway. Contests are as far fetched as “Let’s Make Whoopie” to a “Women’s Skillet Throw”. Interested in Collegiate Bucksawing or the Tree Felling contests? Those events are held on Woodsmen Day. Tuesday is Senior Day (seniors are free!), Friday features the Pig Scramble and Saturday is the two hour Grand Parade. Don’t forget the fried dough or French fries, Maine staples…
Burning Man, an annual event of self expression, held in the desolate Black Rock Desert of Nevada occurs at the end of August and boasts attendance of approximately 50,000 conventional and unconventional souls. Burning Man sells out well in advance. Aside from burning a man in effigy, events range from Disc Golf to a Tattoo Station. Anything goes at this week long camp out.
Burning Man pilgrims are as passionate and devoted to their “fair” as the ardent Fryeburg Fair attendees. Both events are spectacles with huge voyeuristic appeal. Both events require immense planning to attend, a map, a survival guide and a good camera with a long lens.
Along with the West’s Burning Man, Maine’s Fryeburg Fair should be on everyone’s bucket list. Rev up the Airstream because lodging is tough to come by… at both events.
Burning Man: August 25th through September 1st
Fryeburg Fair: September 28th through October 5th