Lancaster – Bolton Fair cannot be stopped. Stopped, maybe, but didn’t stop.
World wars and pandemics may have disrupted the traditional fair’s 148-year history, but this year it veers from last year’s return as it prepares for the 139th Bolton Fair.
From August 12 to 14, the fair will showcase everything from agricultural demonstrations to midway rides, with an area filled with activities, entertainment, and food for fair-goers.
Fair President Rose Darden is overseeing the fair, having initially joined 31 years ago.
“I started in the exhibition hall at the Emerson School,” Darden said. “My first job was to make sure people didn’t touch the demonstrations.”
Today, she and an army of volunteers make sure that the performances are ready for fair-goers.
Since 1874, volunteers have been at the center of the preparation, a year-long effort that intensifies as time goes on.
Starting in Bolton, it recently (at the time of its history) moved to its property at the Lancaster Fairgrounds on Route 117.
“We’re taking advantage of that space,” Darden said, with popular attractions like the demolition derby.
One might wonder what can be added to the full lineup (available at boltonfair.org). But it seems like every year there is some new attraction or the return of old favorites.
Livestock, tractor pull, agricultural performance all damage back to the original fair roots.
But a century – let’s make it almost a century and a half – has brought addition.
Reflecting on his own involvement, Darden simply said, “It’s been amazing.
“We are excited to be back from last year; it was tough after COVID.”
She said there are probably 25 Corps volunteers who do fair work, people who are “topping this year round. There are quite a number who have been here for more than 20 years.”
Young volunteers in their 20s “are the future of the fair and have the same passion as the mentors.”
For all the volunteers — “they’re fantastic,” Darden said — there’s excitement about getting back together every year.
Exhibitors, vendors and fairs share this.
As long as the fair can provide space, Darden said, she expects things like animal shows to continue.
“They are so dedicated and committed,” she said of groups like 4-H, and “99% of shows are youth shows for kids,” which focus on youth.
There’s a lot of casual learning involved in this, from vintage crafts to agricultural details.
“Being able to talk to people about animals, and the challenges they face,” helps educate people about the reality of where their food comes from.
In a fabric and quilt exhibit, exhibitors sit and teach and display, Darden said.
Blacksmithing displays include a display of carpentry as artisans are displayed at the fair.
An additional sawmill demonstration will show the wood being cut and schematized.
In the attraction category, the motorcycle show – which Darden has called “true daredevils” – will perform on all three days.
The Demolition Derby will run on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Entertainment runs the gamut from music to rainforest reptiles.
The fair’s website includes details of the show, schedule and site maps.
With opportunities to drop off at the fair’s location, the parking lot will revamp last year’s plan.
But parking will be limited to the Route 70 location, unlike Kimball. Shuttle buses would bring fair-goers to the fairgrounds, perhaps offering them the option of joining in on the song “The Wheels on the Bus.”
Guest pickup and drop off will be at Gate 2 of the Mela Grounds on Route 117; The fair encourages guests with large strollers or mobility restrictions to exercise that option before parking at the fair’s main site.
Early tickets purchased online are discounted to $12 per day, which increases to $15 once the fair begins.
“We encourage people to shop online or on the bus to enter the fairgrounds early,” Darden said.
And Thursday night’s midway opening has no separate admission fee.
Buying in advance can also lead to access to packages, such as the Mega Pass that connects Fair Admission and Midway.
For information and tickets online, visit Boltonfair.org or call (978) 365-7206.