September 13, 2017 03:02PM
By Mark Dionne Town Times
The 2017 version of the Durham Fair lands on Thursday, Sept. 21 and lasts through Sunday, Sept. 24 between two centennial milestones.
The 98th annual Durham Fair is 101 years after the first Durham Fair and two fairs shy of the 100th Durham Fair, which Durham Fair organizers say will be the big anniversary recognition. The number of fairs and the tally do not match up because World War II and the hurricane of 1938 canceled the fair for several years.
The 98th Durham Fair arrives, bringing with it much tradition, and some new features, such as a lumberjack show and a Military Appreciation Day.
Friday’s headlining entertainment is the country act Brothers Osborne, winners of the Country Music Association’s Duo of the Year Award, with the local band Jackson Hill as openers.
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo headline Saturday night. Classic rock acts, such as Foreigner and REO Speedwagon have done well the Durham Fair in recent years.
The Sunday Main Stage act, The USO Show Troupe, is the first USO show at the Durham Fair and was chosen to coincide with Military Appreciation Day.
“We always have a really robust line up,” said Durham Fair Association President Dan Miramant.
Another new addition to the 98th annual Durham Fair is The Indian River Olde Time Lumberjack Show. On each day of the fair, lumberjacks will perform skills such as axe-throwing, log-rolling, and springboard chopping.
The lumberjack show takes over the Redneck Arena, which has been re-named this year as the Lumberjack Arena. According to Durham Fair Director of Marketing Deb Huscher, it is not known yet if the Redneck Games will return.
The lumberjacks earned the spot as this year’s novelty act as a result of a Facebook poll. “We said let’s have the fair-goers vote,” said Huscher. “The lumberjacks won by about 45 percent.”
As large as the Durham Fair has grown, with as many as 200,000 people coming through in a weekend, Miramant said that the focus still remains on the roots of the agricultural fair. “We’re all about the preservation of agriculture. It’s on everyone’s radar,” said Miramant. “It’s the agriculture preservation and getting our youth and community involvement is what this fair has been about for years.”
The Durham Fair Association has already started planning for the centennial. A committee run by Mary Ann Boord and Karen Conway has been in place for two years. According to Huscher, the specific plans for the centennial are in the works, but not quite firm yet and organizers have taken a hiatus from that to work on the short term goal of a successful 98th Durham Fair.