Tanya Tucker to perform at Lancaster Fair Saturday

MUSIC HEADLINER: Tanya Tucker was just 13 when she scored her first country hit in the early 1970s with a cover of “Delta Dawn,” which garnered her a Grammy nomination for best female country vocal performance. Forty years later, her song book has grown to include “What's Your Mama's Name,” “Blood Red and Goin' Down,” “Strong Enough to Bend,” “Dream Lover” with Glen Campbell, “Would You Lay with Me (in a Field of Stone)” and “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane.” Tucker will play Tupelo Music Hall in Derry at 8 p.m. Friday and the Lancaster Fair at 7 p.m. Saturday.

For those who haven’t been to New Hampshire’s North Country or haven’t visited the region in some time, the 148th Lancaster Fair is a great gateway.

“From Kids’ Korner and Farmer for a Day to motorized events and our featured Saturday night entertainer, Tanya Tucker, there is sure to be something for everyone in your family,” said Michelle McVetty, who serves on the fair’s board of directors.

For many who organize the annual celebration — which draws about 40,000 people over the long Labor Day weekend — pride in the event is deeply personal.

“I will always hold a special place in my heart for the horse-pulling (events),” McVetty said.

During her childhood at the fair, she and her grandmother were in the grandstands at every horse pull.

“She taught us how to keep score; my cousin and I always had our favorite teams,” she said. “Most importantly, she taught us how to appreciate the fair for more than the midway.”

That kind of appreciation centers on the fair’s agricultural heritage, which includes equestrian shows, oxen pulls, an exhibit on grains and grasses, and more.

“In an era that has seen a steady decline in agriculture, the Lancaster Fair strives to support the agricultural community,” McVetty said.

Fairgoers get to enjoy the music, food, rides and myriad displays and shows while giving an economic boost to the town.

“During Labor Day weekend, there are more people in the town of Lancaster than at any other time of the year,” said Ed Samson, town manager. “Hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants and stores all get a final boost to their profits before winter sets in.”

In reflecting on the fair, Samson said he’s probably been involved in most every aspect of the fair over the past 25 years. He’s done everything from repairing fences to building ticket booths.

“I first became involved with the fair during my time as chief of police for the town of Lancaster,” he said. “I was in charge of security at the fair.”

A diversity of experiences defines the five-day fair, McVetty said. There are family-friendly activities, carnival rides, motorized competitions and lots of music.

She organizes and schedules the talent for the fair’s performance tent, and there’s a new offering on the schedule — a HillBilly Olympics competition on Sunday. It will include a Tire Toss, Straw Suck & Carry, a Greased Watermelon Relay, Calf Halter Breaking and a Tractor Tire Flip.

“We just posted the details on our Facebook page, and have had an overwhelming response, so we are very excited to see how well it goes,” she said.

For McVetty though, her favorite part of the fair is seeing “an entire community come together to put on the biggest event of the year in northern New Hampshire.

“It’s great to see all of the exhibitors that come to the fair to show off all the hard work they have put in all year,” McVetty said. “It’s just a wonderful event.”