September 13, 2017 03:02PM
By Mark Dionne
The last day of the 98th annual Durham Fair will be Military Appreciation Day, a first for the fair.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for quite a while. This year it all came together,” said Dan Miramant, Durham Fair Association president. “We put a committee together and got in touch with a lot of our local veterans chapters and we got a ton of support from them. It’s a one-off from us, but we’re so excited for it.”
The Military Appreciation Day also has the concrete goal of putting veterans in touch with services through the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, a sponsor of the day.
According to Durham Fair Marketing Director Deb Huscher, the event came about in discussion with the state VA about a regular sponsorship, which evolved into Military Appreciation Day.
Active service members and U.S. military veterans with a military ID, VA ID, or proof of membership in a veterans organization will be admitted for free on Sunday.
The fair will also host the VA’s Mobile Unit, a set-up that will allow outreach and one-on-one conversations between VA representatives and veterans. According to Huscher, this will give veterans a chance to learn about the services available to them.
The mobile unit will hold a raffle and give away 60 military blankets. The VA will also have people at each entrance to greet veterans.
For Military Appreciation Day, the Durham Fair booked the USO Show Troupe. The USO has a 75-year history of entertaining troops and this is the first USO appearance at the Durham Fair. The Show Troupe performs a mixture of hits from contemporary to songs of the 1940s as well as some patriotic standards.
Before the USO Troupe’s 1 p.m. show, a fife and drum corps will lead a parade from the Town Green to the Main Stage, followed by a presentation of colors. According to Huscher, Durham Fair volunteers have also been submitting photos of themselves and loved ones who served in the military, which will be shown on the Main Stage screens.
Some civic and non-profit booths are offering discounts or free items for veterans on Sunday. The Benchwarmers and the Brewster PTO are giving out a beverage of choice to military members and veterans.
“It’s all about recognizing our veterans,” Miramant said.