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Sunday, September 11, 2011


Vermont State Fair muted amid Irene's aftermath


By JOHN CURRAN Associated Press


09/03/2011


RUTLAND, Vt.—The scene on the midway at the Vermont State Fair on Saturday was much like it's always been. Carnival game barkers called out for customers to try their luck, the smell of french fries wafted over the grounds and 4-H children groomed their dairy cows in the barns. But the 166th annual fair in Rutland showed signs of the times in flood-ravaged Vermont: There were American Red Cross flood victim donation cans at each entrance, a Federal Emergency Management Agency booth set up in one of the barns and fewer vendors, exhibitors and fairgoers.
With many roads—including parts of U.S. Route 4, a major east-west route leading into Rutland—closed and dozens of communities still digging out after torrential downpours last Sunday brought by Tropical Storm Irene, fair officials acknowledged that it will likely be an off-year, with the nine-day event struggling to achieve its typical attendance of 100,000.
Attendance at opening night Friday was off by about 2 percent, according to fair manager Richard Rivers, who says the detours facing some would-be fairgoers would add time to their trip or discourage them from coming. The fair's office got plenty of phone calls this week from people wanting to know how to get there without encountering road closures or detours.
"There is going to be some extra travel involved," he said.
Vendors and fairgoers interviewed Saturday said turnout appeared to be light, compared with previous years.
"It's a lot slower," said Grace Calvin, who staffed a T-shirt sales operation at the Rutland County Dairy Committee barn. She said she's been going to the fair since the 1980s and this year's version was noticeably quieter.

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