News Column

Popular Hebron Harvest Fair kicks off Thursday

September 2, 2014

By Traci Hastings, The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn.

Sept. 02--HEBRON -- The 44th annual Hebron Harvest Fair, presented by the Hebron Lions Club, arrives Thursday and continues through Sunday This year's theme is "Barn in the USA."

In keeping with that theme, the fair will have the country flavor fans expect: livestock exhibits and pulls, an arts-and-crafts tent and a performance by country music star Rodney Atkins.

"He's got six number one hits," said fair superintendent Adam Miclette.

Last year's featured performer was the band Florida Georgia Line, which rocketed to stardom after the fair had already booked them, and attendance rose accordingly on the day of that performance, with advance ticket sales three times higher than normal and every parking lot filled to capacity.

Atkins attracts a slightly different fan base, but is still a very popular country act. "He's more traditional country, and we're excited to have him," Miclette said.

Atkins will play on the main stage at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

For the second year in a row, the Farmer's Cow Country Music Showdown will feature competing acts. "It was a huge success last year," Miclette said.

Local bands were invited to enter the competition this summer. From those entries, six bands were chosen to compete during the showdown, including Branded, Forgotten by Friday, Katie Perkins, Room to Move, Tat Holler, and Uninvited Wilson.

Each band will have 30 minutes to play during the showdown, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. At 5 p.m., the two finalists will battle it out, judged by Nashville country artist duo Kari and Billy.

The winner earns the title of " Best Country Band in New England," cash prizes, and the opportunity to perform at the 2015 Hebron Harvest Fair.

Last year's winner of the Country Music Showdown, the Coyote River Band, will perform at this year's fair Friday.

Also playing will be Kari and Billy themselves, playing after the Country Music Showdown at 8 p.m. Saturday, and opening for Atkins Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Throughout the four- day fair, barns will be open for visitors to see cows, oxen, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits and poultry, while entries ranging from prize-winning pies to first-place fruits and blue-ribbon blooms will also be on display.

The Dock Dogs New England Championship will return this year, featuring dogs competing to see which has the farthest dive.

Contests will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday; at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday; at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, with opportunities to see dogs practicing at any given time throughout the long weekend.

Other animals will also perform: horse pulls will be held at 6 p.m. Friday; steer pulls will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, pony pulls will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, and ox pulls will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.

And for those who prefer to hold a horseshoe rather than watch one, a horseshoe tournament will offered this year, with single players competing at 6 p.m. Friday, draw-your-partner competitions at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, and bring-your-partner contests at will be held 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

If those events sound too tame, the Hebron Harvest Fair also has some shows guaranteed to get anyone's motor running.

The annual Traditional Demolition Derby will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and the Double Figure 8 Demolition Derby will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Connecticut State Tractor Pullers Association competes at 10 a.m. Saturday, the Mass-achusetts State Tractor Pullers Association takes the ring at 7 p.m. Saturday, and the New York State Tractor Pullers Association's contest is at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Additionally, Miclette said the American Racing Lawnmower Association will be part of the Hebron Harvest Fair for the first time ever, with 10 different classes held during the weekend.

Reithoffer Shows is returning this year to present the carnival midway, with pay-one-price wristbands available in advance at $20 each, or available for $25 each Thursday, Friday and Sunday and for $30 each Saturday. Individual ride tickets will be sold for $1.25 each as well.

Miclette said the Lions Club has been working hard to prepare for this year's fair and on the events that will entertain fairgoers and on behind- the- scenes work that might be less noticeable but is not less important.

Traditionally, the fair has been plagued with water issues, with restrooms having to be shut down for periods of time due to lack of running water.

Over the past year, the Lions Club took down an old restroom block and installed temporary restrooms, and added water storage tanks to the property to fix that problem.

"We have been working hard, and we're ready," Miclette said.

The Hebron Harvest Fair runs from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; from 12 noon to 11 p.m. Friday; from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and from 9 a. m. to 8 p. m. Sunday.

Admission is $12 per person with children admitted free of charge every day and seniors admitted free of charge between noon and 4 p.m. Friday. Parking is free between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday and between noon and 4 p.m. Friday, and is $5 per vehicle Thursday and Friday evenings and all of Saturday and Sunday.

A full schedule of events is available online at the Lions Club's web site, www.hebronharvestfair. org, and advance admission and midway tickets are also available there.


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Source: Chronicle, The (Willimantic, CT)

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