A rural step back, Grange Fair set for Aug. 19

Wilton's operating farms may have diminished, but the annual Cannon Grange Fair helps keep alive the spirit of the town's rural past. This year will mark the 80th anniversary of the fair, which has been called "the nicest little fair in Connecticut" by The Association of Connecticut Fairs, according to Don Offinger, president of Cannon Grange. "It's like a step back in time — an authentic agricultural fair," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to share this with Wilton and the surrounding community."

The fair, which will take place on Sunday, Aug. 19, features judged exhibits in "bakery, locally grown vegetables and fruit, flowers, sewing and needlework, crafts, photography, eggs, homemade spirits and farm animals," Mr. Offinger said. "Ribbons are awarded for first, second, third and honorable mention placing. Large purple rosettes are awarded for best in show."

"It's a way of bringing the community together, and sharing produce from your garden, needlework or crafts and baked goods," said Bille Sue Hollingsworth, a member of the Cannon Grange board.

The Cannon Grange Agricultural Fair is the "grand finale" to Wilton's summer, she said.

This year's 80th anniversary fair will also include Dave Barrett, a WCBS radio personality, acting as the "voice of the fair," Mr. Offinger said. "He will introduce the entertainment acts and other events and serve as auctioneer for the baked goods and produce entered in the exhibits."

Ms. Hollingsworth said her own band will perform, doing "mostly country and some folk." Other area musicians appearing will include Rita Caruso, Peter Campbell and John Ottman.

Another highlight will be the traditional watermelon-eating contest, "sponsored by the Kirchof family," Mr. Offinger said.

The annual Rubber Duck Race along the Norwalk River, which flows in front of the grange building, will also take place. The race traditionally benefits a charity, and Mr. Offinger said this year's proceeds will be used "to purchase an automated defibrillator device for the Cannon Grange Hall." Mr. Offinger said this has become a necessity, especially with so many community groups using the hall.

Several prizes, including children's bicycles, will be awarded to "the winning ducks," he said.

A food court will offer a selection of Southern-style barbecue provided by the South Norwalk vendor Jeff's Cuisine, Mr. Offinger said. Antique cars and fire trucks will also be on display.

Mr. Offinger said the fair has drawn up to 5,000 visitors, but typically around 1,500 to 1,800.

The Grange, or the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, was founded in 1867, and is focused on community service, family activities and agricultural causes," according to its website.

Wilton's 80th Annual Cannon Grange Fair will take place on Sunday, Aug. 19, from 10 to 4.

Information: cannongrange.org.