UNION — This year marks the 150th Union Fair in 153 years. Read on to discover some insights into the rich history of this agricultural fair.

The first fair was held in October 1869, organized by the North Knox Agricultural and Horticultural Society. It was held at the Union Common.

The fair was advertised in the Rockland Gazette, an ancestor of The Courier-Gazette newspaper, in the “About Town” section Sept. 17, 1869. The advertisement stated, “the North Knox Agricultural and Horticultural Society will hold their first annual fair at Union, October 5th, 6th and 7th.”

The society was made up of five towns: Appleton, Hope, Union, Warren and Washington.

The Oct. 8, 1869, edition of The Rockland Gazette featured an extensive review of the first fair which did not pull any punches.

“It would not have been a matter of surprise if this exhibition had been smaller and less successful than former agricultural shows in the county, but such was not the case,” the article states.

“The show of stock was larger than any similar exhibition we have attended in the county, and the display of field crops and dairy products was large and excellent. There was also a good show of household manufactures, embroidery and fancy articles.”

The article described a variety of farm animals at the first fair including cows, horses, pigs and sheep. Field crops, fruits and dairy products were also on display, according to the article.

Manufactured items such as carriages, wagons and buggies, “superior plows,” and handmade leather were also found at the first Union Fair.

The article also describes various household items produced by Midcoast Maine residents, including “one pair of stockings knitted by Miss Flora May Lancaster, 6 years of age, it being the second pair she had finished.”

The article ends with a glowing review. “We congratulate the officers and members of the Society upon the creditable character and gratifying success of their first annual exhibition.”

Each town of the agricultural and horticultural society took turns hosting the fair until 1886, when the society decided all future fairs would be held in Union. The society later purchased the land where the Union Fair is currently held.

In 1956, the fair contracted with King Reid Shows, and rides were added to the fair.

The State of Maine Blueberry Festival joined the Union Fair in 1959, to celebrate Maine’s blueberry industry.

The Blueberry Queen competition was added in 1961, with 13 candidates sponsored by Maine blueberry companies. The first winner was Monalee Smith of Brookville. She won a silver trophy and $100.

Currently, the Union Fair Trustees who organize and run the show are from all over Maine.

Sources: Ron Hawes, The Union Fair website and The Rockland Gazette.

Going for a ride at the Union Fair. Courier-Gazette archives

Fun and games at the Union Fair. Courier-Gazette archives

Blueberry queen Patty McCormick, 1978. Courier-Gazette archives

Children participate in a pie eating contest at the Union Fair. Courier-Gazette archives

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