CUMBERLAND — Herbert Mosher Jr. took a test drive Friday, country-fair
style. The logger from Temple wanted to test the pulling power of Jake, a
1,650-pound Belgian horse, before buying. So he hitched him with another
horse and attached a dragger loaded with three tons of concrete.
Loud shouts and the rumble of hoofs followed as Mosher carried on the
tradition of horse pulling competitions.
Jake and other horses are among hundreds of animals that made the
Cumberland Fairgrounds home this week. They spent their days pulling,
running and just showing off at the Cumberland County Fair, which ends
"It takes time to get a horse to work good with his mates," said Patrick
Smith of East Dixfield as he prepared for a three-horse pull competition.
Throughout the year, Smith works with Fred, Jay and Jack so they have the
stamina and strength to pull come fair season. He sometimes uses the team on
weekends to pull logs from the woods near his home, but as is the case for
most competitors, the horses are a hobby.
The horse pulls are just one way the animals and their owners compete for
money and ribbons at the 134-year-old fair. There is harness racing at the
fairground's main track, sheep contests and the showing of dairy cows.
"If I get a check, it's nice. If I don't, it don't bother me," said
Harold McCarthy, 80, of Littleton as he rode behind his two-horse team.
Outside the show arena, Diane O'Brien waited with Frosty, a Jersey dairy
cow that her 17-year-old son was having judged. She said the cow is a real
show animal that already has been to several fairs.
"She loves to show," said O'Brien, of Baker Brook Farm in Windham. "Some
animals get nervous. You have to work with them a lot."
Once in the arena, the Jersey cows and their handlers circled the sawdust
floor as judge Peter Zacharias eyed each one. Winning cows have, among other
things, long necks, strong frames and good hooves, O'Brien said.
"I like the power. I like the size," said Zacharias as he described a
winner over the public address system.
The animal competitions continue today with more horse pulls and harness
racing, as well as pig and calf scrambles.
Fair organizers hope the final day will bring a spike in attendance,
since crowds are down this year.
Fair President Michael Timmons estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 people had
been through the gates by early Friday afternoon. But the seven-day fair has
drawn 60,000 to 65,000 people in past years, he said.
Two days of bad weather is one reason for the low numbers, Timmons said.
The fair had to shut down the rides Thursday afternoon, and it did not
charge admission the rest of the day because of rain and high winds.
Timmons also speculated that the high price of gas may have discouraged
some people from attending
Article courtesy of Portland Press Herald