No birds, but Cummington Fair promises plenty of fun next month


CUMMINGTON — The Cummington Fair may be returning this August, but don’t expect to see any birds there.

The fair will take place this year from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Sunday, Aug. 28 at the Cummington Fairgrounds.

Due to the threat of avian flu, there will be no poultry shows on site and there will be no ducks, chickens or pigeons in attendance.

“It can go from bird to bird,” said Albert Judd, president of the board of directors of the Hillside Agricultural Society, which runs the fair and presides over the fairgrounds. “The board of directors is airing on the side of caution.”

This decision was also made in keeping with a request by the state Department of Agricultural Resources to not hold poultry exhibitions, and follows a ban on them earlier in the year.

Judd did note that the poultry barn won’t be empty, as rabbits will still be exhibited there.

Last year’s fair was held after being canceled in 2020 for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some COVID-19 protocols will be in place for this year’s fair, Judd said that “everything’s looking a lot closer to your normal fair.”

Two events that will be returning to the fair this year will be truck pulls, which will take place Thursday, Aug. 25, and the square dance, which will take place Saturday, Aug. 27.

“It’s really been kind of nice to have a full year to plan,” Judd said.

Demolition derbies, meanwhile, will be taking place on Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27.

“We have the best place to watch demolition derbies,” said Kevin Hollister, a member of the board of directors of the Hillside Agricultural Society.

As for what he’s looking the most forward to, Judd said it’s the “people you only see at fair,” as well as getting to see the agricultural displays and craft handiwork people will bring.

Kenneth “Trudge” Howes, a member of the board of directors of the Hillside Agricultural Society and the chairman of the Cummington Select Board, cited seeing friends he gets to connect with just once or twice a year as what he’s looking forward to at the fair , as well as the food.

“People’s healthy habits disappear when they go to a fair,” Howes said.

He also expressed hope that more people would attend the fair than last year, although he did worry about transportation costs dampening turnout.

Hollister, the society board member charged with booking entertainment acts for the fair, said he went “all local” for the fair’s musical acts this year.

The lineup this year consists of the Shelburne Falls Military Band on Thursday, Sarah The Fiddler on Friday, the JD Project Saturday afternoon, and Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks late Saturday afternoon. Rosie Porter and the Neon Moons will be playing Sunday afternoon, while the closing musical act will be Sidetracked late Sunday afternoon.

This year’s non-musical entertainment will include Dan the Pirate, who will be roaming the grounds all four days.

“He goes around the fairgrounds in a motorized pirate boat,” Hollister said. “He dresses up as a pirate. Does tricks for kids and stuff.”

Several events have occurred on the fairgrounds this year already, including the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair over Memorial Day weekend, the Hampshire County 4-H Fair on July 9, and the New England Ox Teamster Pull July 15-17.

“It was great to see them come back,” Judd said of the Woolcraft Fair, which returned for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

This weekend will also feature a new event for the fair, the JAM Fund Grand Fundo — a bicycling event and barbecue that raises money for young people to get involved in competitive cycling.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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