Late summer fairs, festivals food and fun

In August and September, it’s a Granite State tradition to celebrate the end of summer at an agricultural fair, festival or special food event. Some of the season’s most festive — and kid-friendly — events take place over the next few weeks, so be sure to leave room in your family’s calendar for more summer fun. It’s not over yet! 


Get a jump on agricultural fair season in New Hampshire at the Cheshire Fair in Swanzey. This time-honored fair, which is celebrating 80 years this year, features 4-H animal and livestock shows, agricultural displays, a carnival midway, and plenty of entertainment, including a Battle of the Bands, truck pull, fireworks and comedy show. Dates: August 2-5, 2018.

At the annual Belknap Country 4-H Fair in Belmont, admission for children under 10 is free. The fair features animal exhibits, live music and plenty of midway games and rides. On Friday, Aug.10, stop by Hoot Night, the fair’s open showcase for local musicians. Dates: August 10-12, 2018.

The laid-back Cornish Fair has a packed schedule of family-friendly events, including animal exhibits and midway fun, the Cornish Fair prince and princess pageants, and live music. Want to show your kids a rocking good time? Don’t miss this year’s headliner, Bon Jersey, a Bon Jovi tribute band. Dates: August 17-19, 2018.

On Labor Day weekend, the bustling midway and sprawling agricultural exhibits of the Hopkinton State Fair is a farewell-to-summer tradition. The fair is home to one of the largest livestock displays in New England, with barn after barn of cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, horses, oxen, llamas and other four-footed favorites. Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, don’t miss the demolition derby and roller coaster. Dates: August 31-September 3, 2018.

At the Hillsborough County Fair in New Boston you will find 4-H kids competing with their pigs, rabbits and goats for that elusive blue ribbon, plus oxen and horse pulling competitions, giant pumpkin weigh off, an apple pie contest, live music, entertainment, and exciting midway rides and games. Dates: September 7-9, 2018.

Now in its 142nd year, the Deerfield Fair lays claims to the title of New England’s oldest agricultural fair. Highlights of this year’s fair include agility dog demonstrations, horse shows, and a WW II re-enactment, plus livestock exhibits and all the usual midway excitement. Dates: September 27-30, 2018.


Give summer a festive farewell, starting with taking a step back in time at the Hay Day Family Festival, an annual celebration of good old summertime fun held at The Fells estate in Newbury each August. Planned events include old-fashioned games, music, children’s art projects, scavenger hunt, petting zoo, face painting, and plenty of delicious food. You can also explore the estate’s nature trails and Fairy Village, and take guided tours of the Main House and gardens. Date: Sunday, August 12, 2018.

Each August, kids take over Hampton Beach for the annual free Children’s Festival, five days of non-stop activity and entertainment, including sand castle building competitions, talent show, dancing, games and face painting. The annual festival kicks off with a magic show and builds up to a Giant Costume Parade that marches along Hampton Beach on the last day of the festival. Dates: August 13-17, 2018.

Celebrate the gentle giants of the north at Colebrook’s annual North Country Moose Festival. The festival features a moose-calling contest, live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, a dog show, maple syrup tasting contest, and other moose-centric activities for all ages. Dates: August 24-25, 2018

Ready for some out-of-this-world fun? Head to Exeter’s annual UFO Festival. Held throughout Exeter’s downtown, the festival draws both UFO enthusiasts and skeptics for two educational and exciting days devoted to aliens, unidentified flying objects, and the possibility of life on other planets. Just for kids are outer space-themed games and crafts and music. September 1-2, 2018.


If August isn’t hot enough for you, head to the Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pat’s Peak. The annual fundraiser for the Henniker Rotary Club has two chili tasting competitions – one for amateurs and one for professionals. Entertainment, activities for the kids, more food including a beer wagon and ice cream, and car cruise-in makes this a fun day for everyone. Date: Sunday, August 19, 2018

Got a budding inventor, scientist, or baker in the family? Head to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover for the NH Maker & Food Fest (formerly the Dover Mini Maker Faire) and learn from local “makers” as they demonstrate their hobbies, experiments, projects — from building robots to baking fantastic foods. Hands on demonstrations are a win for kids. Date: Saturday, August 25, 2018.

To end summer on a tasty note, head to the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival for an amazing spread of foods from local restaurants, plus live music, a lobster-eating contest, chef demonstrations, high flying performances by Skydive New England, crafts vendors, and fireworks on the beach. Dates: September 7-9, 2018.

Consider it a chance to squeeze in one last day at the beach — and one last lobster roll — before summer is over for another year.  

Jacqueline Tourville is an award-winning children’s author who lives in southern Maine. Jacqueline frequently writes about events and activities for families. She is celebrating her 10th anniversary as a contributor to ParentingNH in 2018.

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