LANCASTER – Kettle corn, tractor pulls, quilts, blacksmiths, 4-H animal judging, horse shows, flowers and vegetable exhibits, human rooster crowing contests, midway rides, pulled-pork sandwiches and fiddlers’ contests - the 135th annual Bolton Fair has it all.
The Warilas of Leominster, mom, dad and two kids, were there to see the animals and play some games Saturday afternoon. Amanda Warila says she has been going to the Bolton Fair since she was a small child. “We love the pulled pork, and you have to have the coleslaw with it,” she said.
Seven year-old Aliyah said her favorite animal to visit were the rabbits. “They are so nice and so soft,” she said.
The Rambunctious Rabbits of Middleboro 4-H Club brought the DeCosta-Hill family to Bolton. Two members of their family, MacKenzie, 12, and MachKayla, 9, belong to the club and raise rabbits.
“Oh, we have quite a few of them; around 10 right now,” said Crystal DeCosta-Hill.
MacKenzie says she loves raising the rabbits. “Ruby (a New Zealand White) is my best friend. She is very mellow and friendly, and helps me out with my therapy, she is calming,” she said as she held Ruby and let visitors pet the rabbit.
The family travels to a lot of shows and they do ask about buying a rabbit when they see an interesting breed. “Other times we just fall in love with their personalities. Benji over there is like a dog, very rambunctious and energetic. Ruby is the friendly one,” said Melanie DeCosta-Hill.
Across the way from the rabbit tent, Kris Bingham of Lunenburg was judging sheep wool.
“This is soft, absolutely gorgeous,” she said as a fleece was unrolled for judging. She has been spinning wool for the past 10 years and a judge for two.
“We judge on the yield — how much of the piece that can be used, the length of the fiber — some of these are crazy long, the consistency from front to back, the strength of the fiber and what I call the character of the piece. Sometimes it calls to me, a gut feeling,” she said, explaining the judging process. “I haven’t been doing this for very long, so I am always willing to learn,” she added.
The blacksmith and farrier shop is a busy venue with blacksmiths heating iron and showing folks how it’s done.
Joe Lambert of Athol is an ironworker who is working on the Longfellow Bridge in Boston. He aspires to working full time as a blacksmith.
For now he does it for enjoyment, much to the chagrin of his fellow workers in Boston. “Some of the guys at work say to me, ‘You work iron all day and you do that for fun?’ Others are interested and want to know more,” he said as he worked on a pair of chopsticks. He also does ornamental work, including gates and handrails, garden ornaments, weather vanes and artwork.
Tony “The Drummer” Fonseca held the attention of a dozen toddlers and their parents in one of the entertainment tents.
“This is an Ashiko drum, those are Conga drums. We are playing what I call a mixture of West African, Cape Verdean, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian drumming. I teach at schools and for youth groups,” said Mr. Fonseca during a break. He also has bells on one foot and whistles around his neck. The children are encouraged to play on a variety of drums, can shake a tambourine, ring the bells or tap percussion drum heads. And they do. With enthusiasm.
Bob Keifer and his 3-year-old son Sam of Ayer were drumming away with Mr. Fonseca. “He heard it from way over there,” said Mr. Keifer when asked who brought who to the tent.
The Bolton Fair continues on Sunday and opens its gates at 9 a.m. Among the many events and venues available are the garden tractor pull, a chain-saw carver, monster truck show, midway rides at noon, birds of prey exhibit, a free petting zoo, a horse show and family music show featuring Wayne from Maine Kids Country and more. The fair closes at 6 p.m.
See the full lineup, ticket prices and map of the fairgrounds at www.boltonfair.org.