Old Meets New at Champlain Valley Fair

By Steph Machado

Published 08/22 2014 07:46PM

Updated 08/22 2014 09:36PM

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. - The 10 best days of summer are here.

And the more things change, the more they stay the same--that's what the fair is for Pam and George Bissonnette, who have been selling sausages and hamburgers  at the Champlain Valley Fair for 39 years.

"Every hour that the fair is open, we are here," said Pam, who runs Pam's Deli at UVM during the school year.

As veteran vendors, the married couple has the best spot in the house: right next to the Grandstand. They've watched the fair grow from 6 days to 10, and improve over the years.

"It's definitely bigger and better. It's cleaner," Pam said.

What started as an agricultural fair in 1923 now has 45 rides (including two Ferris wheels!) and 70 food vendors. From old favorites like fried oreos, to new experiments like a Caribbean Stand.

"Pretty much you name it, we've got it here," said Chris Ashby, the Marketing Director for the Champlain Valley Exposition. Ashby says as much as the fair improves, agriculture is still at the center of it all.

"I think fairs in general kind of represent an opportunity for Vermonters to reconnect with agriculture," Ashby said. "Depending on where you are in the state, your connection with agriculture may be more distant, particularly in an urban area like Chittenden County where it's a little more developed isn't as prevalent as some of the other counties."

The fair means something different for each of the 200,000 people who walk through the gate each year--but for Pam and George, it will always be the social event of the season.

"The fair is a place to meet all your long lost friends, your relatives...everyone comes and we get to catch up on the year and what's going on in their lives."

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