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Tradition runs deep on the fairgrounds in Deerfield

It is a mistake to think of the 136th annual Deerfield Fair, which opened Thursday, as simply a fried-food and Ferris-wheel affair.

Wander a hundred yards in one direction and there are rows of antique engines and tractors and a blacksmith giving a demonstration at his forge. Go another way, and there are cattle-pulling contests and horse shows, a petting zoo and &#';Hurdy-Gurdy Man&#'; Jim Bryant playing a melancholy carnival song on a dulled saw, backed by a band of animatronic monkeys.

Established in 1876 after the town was bypassed by the railroads and rejected as a new state capital, the Deerfield fair has become an institution in the region.

Jessica Gionet of Dover, attending the fair with her husband and child, called it &#';a family tradition.&#';

&#';We've been coming since we were kids and we wanted our kids to experience what we did when we were little,&#'; she said.

The event still attracts newcomers, including a 60-year-old Lyndeborough man said he was impressed with the fair's scale. &#';Something to do around every corner,&#'; he said.

This year's highlights include a demolition derby Sunday at 5 p.m.; the Miss Deerfield fair pageant Friday at 7 p.m.; the Little Miss Deerfield pageant Sunday at 10:30 a.m.; the antique tractor pull Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.; The Ancient Order of Hibernians pipe and drum band Saturday at 9 a.m., and the Flying Wallendas Family Circus Friday at 12:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Horse shows are held every day, with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. All events are free with admission.

The fairgrounds are at 34 Stage Road in Deerfield. The fair is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

General admission tickets cost $10 and on Friday only, $7 for seniors.

Children 12 and under may enter for free. Tickets are available at the entrance gates and online. Parking is free. Overnight camper space is available.

For more information, visit www.deerfieldfair.com

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Brendan Clogston may be reached at

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