WOODSTOCK, Conn. — For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Woodstock Fair will return to normal.
In fact, the 161st edition of the annual Labor Day weekend fair — Sept. 2-5 this year — will be better than normal with a expanded carnival for smaller children, a bigger and better horse show and a goat exhibit.
The only thing missing will be the chickens due to the earlier outbreak of avian influenza and a desire to err on the side of caution, acting fair President Jeffrey Gordon said.
While the fair stays true to its agricultural roots, it’s become an event with something for everyone, Gordon said.
“We expanded the carnival area because people really seemed to like that,” Gordon said, adding that the area is separate from the midway which has ride more suited for teenagers and adults.
With two stages for entertainment, there’s an opportunity to see some bigger names on the Main Stage including Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, the Gatlin Brothers, the Gin Blossoms and Dire Straits Legacy, which features five of the original Dire Straits members.
The South Stage Family Fun Center offers all-ages entertainment including the diaper dash for crawling babies and senior grapefruit bowling for the 55-and-older crowd.
The East Woodstock Cornet Band, billed as a fair tradition, also performs there.
In addition to entertainment, there’s an arts and crafts fair, exhibits of fruits and vegetables, handmade items and artwork with growers and creators vying for the elusive blue ribbon.
There are also horse, pony, tractor and oxen pulls — competitions to see which in each category can move the most weight.
Gordon said fair officials are excited about this year’s offerings after cancellations and a scaled-down version of the fair last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Woodstock Fair is open from noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 2, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 3 and 4, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 5.
The fairgrounds are located at 281 Route 169 in Woodstock.