Patio, gala to mark 100 years of Durham Fair 

Patio, gala to mark 100 years of Durham Fair 

reporter photo

DURHAM — The Durham Fair committee is already two years into their planning for the 100th fair, which is still more than eight months away. 

Since an event to kick off the 100th fair celebration in 2016, the fair committee has been meeting periodically to plan fundraisers, a gala event, and lots of activities focused on the big milestone for this year’s fair in September. 

The committee’s current focus is on fundraising to build the Everlasting Tribute Patio, by selling sponsorship of personalized bricks, benches, and wall toppers to use for the installment. Construction on the patio is already underway, in an area by the Needlework Barn on the fairgrounds.

The patio will include three large flagpoles — adorned by the American flag, Durham Fair flag and either a state or town flag — which will be noticeable from anywhere on the fairgrounds. 

Karen Conway, co-chair of the 100th celebration committee and first vice president of the fair, said the patio will be an acknowledgment and thank you to everyone who has helped make the fairs happen over the years — volunteers, patrons, and donors alike. 

“This is an area that everybody can go and enjoy,” Conway said. 

Before the fair’s weekend comes around in late September, the committee is holding a gala event named “The Celebration of 100 Fairs.” 

The celebration will be the evening of May 11, in the fairgrounds’ “beautifully transformed” Cow Palace, Conway said. Tickets won’t be on sale until the event is closer, but Conway said Scot Haney from WFSB is slated to be the keynote speaker and the Savage Brothers Band will play live. 

The committee is still working on the details for exhibits and activities that will highlight the history of the fair for patrons this year. One commemoration will be in the form of craft beer, thanks to a local brewery that is working on a custom craft beer to share in the CT Craft Beer & Cider Tasting tent.

Conway said any residents that feel they have something special to share regarding the fair’s history may reach out to the committee via the Durham Fair website.

The 2019 fair will be held Sept. 26-29, on the usual fairgrounds.

The Durham Fair was established in 1916 and as been missed only four times, due to weather and wars. 

As the state’s largest agricultural fair, Conway said reaching 100 fairs is “very significant” considering it’s been run completely by volunteers.

She expects history-specific exhibits to be part of this year’s fair, which will showcase the significance of being able to keep up the fair on an ongoing basis with just volunteers. 

“Clearly the 100th fair is going to be a celebration, but the significance of it to me represents the dedication of 100 years of volunteers that kept this going,” said Durham First Selectman Laura Francis. “How enduring the values that the Durham Fair represents are that generations of volunteers have kept it alive.”

For more information, or tickets to The Celebration of 100 Fairs, contact 860-538-1221,, or visit the Durham Fair website.
Twitter: @baileyfaywright


Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢

Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.

Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢