The Canterbury Fair celebrates New Hampshire traditions and offers an opportunity for area residents to enjoy great food, music and entertainment.
This year’s event will be held on Saturday, July 31, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the fairgrounds, located in Canterbury’s town center, is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5 for parking. All the proceeds benefit the Canterbury Community Church and the Canterbury Fund, a fund for local families who need financial assistance.
At the fair, visitors will be able to purchase hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, veggie burgers and fruit cups. There will also be cotton candy, ice cream, popcorn and a frappe stand. Local residents will be baking sweet treats for the bakery table, as well.
The chicken barbecue is one of the fair’s biggest draws. In 1959, the Canterbury Ladies Benevolent Society added the chicken barbecue to the Canterbury Country Fair and Bazaar and increased profits ten-fold. Granted, profits had been about $200 before the addition of chicken, but a 1,000-percent increase was nonetheless impressive, and since then, they have made sure the chicken barbecue is part of the event. The Sunset Mountain Fish and Game Club, a local shooting range and hunting club, barbecues throughout the day. Traditional side dishes, like potato salad, will be served with the chicken. It will start to be served around 11 a.m. and costs $8.
“These guys get here really early in the morning and fire up the coals so that it’s ready when it’s time to eat,” said John Bouton, one of the fair’s coordinators.
The fair will also give visitors the opportunity to meet local farmers and their animals. Traditionally there have been sheep, goats, llamas and other farm animals on display.
In many ways, the Canterbury Fair reflects the local culture.
“It’s a very traditional, wholesome, keeping-the-old-way-going type of fair,” Bouton said.
Canterbury has many craftsmen who make cabinets, furniture and other items in traditional ways. There will be several artisans, from blacksmiths to rug braiders, showing visitors their trades. A variety of craftspeople will exhibit and sell their wares. Vendors will include jewelers, leather crafters and bee keepers.
“That is really the point, to give these local craftspeople an opportunity to sell their wares,” Bouton said.
Children’s games and activities, such as ring toss, face painting and rubber duck races, will provide fun for little ones who attend.
Fair attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase antiques from several regional antique dealers and choose from thousands of books donated to the fair.
“This year marks the return of our whatnot sale in our town hall,” Bouton said.
The whatnot sale is a huge tag sale with items donated by the local community.
Entertainment will be provided by two bluegrass bands, Bow Junction and the Grass Dawgs. In addition to the musicians, a Morris dancing team will perform. Morris dance is a form of English folk dance, which involves executing choreographed figures, and sometimes involves bells, handkerchiefs and swords.
The Canterbury Woodchuck Classic 5K Road Race and the Chipmunk 1.2-mile Fun Run for children will start at the Canterbury Elementary School at 9 a.m. Registration costs $15, and the application can be found at www.canterburyfair.com. The fair coordinators are excited that this year the road race has become part of the Capital Area Race Series and is expected to draw in about 750 extra people.
A new addition to the fair this year is the historical society’s exhibit called “Out of the Archives: A Canterbury Pictorial.” The exhibit will feature interesting pictures and artifacts from the town’s archives.
“I think most of these pictures have very rarely been seen” Bouton said.
Bouton stressed that the fair is very community-oriented. He said that everyone pitching in and coming back year after year is “the Canterbury way.”
“It’s one of the first things that when a person moves to Canterbury he or she is asked to get into,” Bouton said. “Lots of us get tapped because it is such a volunteer-driven, community event.”