WILMINGTON -- Thousands of people spent the weekend savoring some of the last summer traditions Windham County has to offer at one of the oldest fairs in Vermont.
With a craft fair, historical exhibits, carnival rides, a tractor pull and Sunday's demolition derby and classic car show, visitors had plenty to experience at the 95th annual Deerfield Valley Farm Fair.
"It's a true community fair ... real American nostalgia," said Steven Adams, president of the fair.
Adams said Sunday crowds are typically the smallest of the three-day event but when officials began offering a single fee for everything the fair had to offer it brought droves of people from throughout New England.
By 11 a.m. on Sunday, the parking fields in Wilmington and the parking lot at the Twin Valley High School were completely full, he said.
"It's certainly the largest crowd we've seen in at least the past 20 years," he said. "It was a tough year, especially with the flood damage, but seeing these people here makes all the hard work seem worth it."
With a small staff, organization of the fair is a massive undertaking said Ann Brown, vice-president of the fair.
Next year will require more volunteer help than any in the fair's history, she said, as several "key people" have retired.
"We've lost more than 150 years of experience between the volunteers that retired," Brown said. "We're really going to need people to step up and take over
During Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, the fields were filled with more than 8 feet of water and most of the electrical systems to supply power to the area were destroyed, Adams said. But because of a grant from the Vermont Agricultural Department, the system was replaced.
Brown said it was imperative to host the fair this year, especially after so many people locally in Dover, Halifax, Marlboro, Newfane, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Stratton, Townshend, Wardsboro, Whitingham and Wilmington, suffered from the historical flooding caused by Irene.
"The fair is like a mini Old Home Week," she said. "It gives people a chance to stop and see friends and neighbors they might not normally get to visit with."
Adams joked that it was like "a Town Meeting without all the arguing."
The only arguing that seemed to take place was over who to root for during the demolition derby as the crowd roared when their favorite drivers smashed into another competitor's car.
Thirteen-year-old Nathan Nissley traveled with his family all the way from North Dakota to take part in the fair and visit family.
While playing one of the carnival games, Nathan won a stuffed dragon to take back west.
"It's a great fair," he said. "I really liked watching the cars crash during the derby."
Nathan's mom, Gina Plumb, said she enjoyed the craft fair.
"This whole thing is very quaint," Plumb said.
Adams and Brown have both committed to keeping the Deerfield Valley Farm Fair going but they're going to need help to do so.
"This needs to survive," she said. "It's a part of our history and culture."
For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Ann Brown at 802-464-0267.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.