Old-fashioned fair in 99th year

More than the famous homemade fruit pies, served all three days at the 99th Vinland Fair, draws a crowd to this rural Douglas County celebration.

“It’s just a down-home fair,” said Barbara Maycock of Vinland. “Everything’s just kind of like it was in the old days, and that’s what’s fun about it.”

Maycock and her daughter had just competed in the log-sawing competition on the fair’s opening day.

The second day of the three-day fair opens at 10 this morning with stock bicycle races.

Several children enjoyed milling around the fairgrounds Thursday afternoon and learning about how things used to be done on the farm.

During competition, John Robbs, who lives near Vinland, and his buddy Isaac Smith yanked a two-man saw across a log as it screeched back and forth. They finished in 30 seconds.

“I just think it’s cool,” Robbs said. “I’m more excited about the (hay) bale toss.”

He wants to beat his 9-foot, 3-inch bale toss last week at the Douglas County Fair. He also has entered a rocket and a picture he painted as exhibits for judging.

Fair judges and superintendents were busy Thursday afternoon accepting entries.

Levi Smith, 8, races against the clock to hammer three nails into a piece of wood during the Old-Time Farm Skills Contest at the Vinland Fair. Thursday was the first day of the 99th fair in Vinland, which is southeast of Lawrence. The fair continues through Saturday.

Ray Wilber, the fair’s agricultural superintendent, has lived in the Vinland area since 1971. A large cabbage – the biggest one he has seen – was plopped a few feet from him on a table.

But he expected his tables to be full with carrots, tomatoes and other food items later when more people got off work and rushed to the fairgrounds.

“It’s kind of a neighborhood reunion,” Wilber said.

He says the event’s tradition and the food have kept it going strong one year shy of the century mark.

The Vinland PTO served spaghetti dinners Thursday, and fair volunteers will serve barbecue beef Friday and Saturday, chicken noodle dinners Friday and beef brisket Saturday.

“It’s just not dwindling at all. It gets bigger, if anything,” Wilber said.