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Got 50 acres of sandy soil in Franklin County? Your agricultural fair wants to talk

A photo of a man driving a horse from a metal two-wheel wagon. He's holding the reigns attached to a black horse. Blue sky is overhead.
George Ouellette
Franklin County Field Days, Courtesy
Franklin County Field Days held its 47th annual agricultural fair at the beginning of the month at the state airport in Highgate.

Franklin County Field Days has been looking for a new site location for over a year.

And last week the agricultural fair announced on Facebook that landowners should get in touch if they have at least 50 acres of sandy soil located in Franklin County.

The fair must move from its current location at the state airport in Highgate, because of conditions attached to funds that Vermont has accepted from the Federal Aviation Administration — that’s according to Michele Boomhower, division director for policy planning and intermodal development at the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

She says the FAA is requiring that the state airport property be used for aviation business or functions.

"Our Federal Aviation Administration partners meet with us on a pretty regular basis to make sure that we're maintaining the resources they've invested in a way that's consistent with the federal regulations," Boomhower said. "And this has been an area of concern of theirs for some time, and so we've been, you know, working towards this."

She added that VTrans has been working with the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission to help the Franklin County Field Days board of directors find a new place for the fair.

As for what will replace it once the relocation happens, Boomhower says that's unclear.

“We don't have like, an immediate party that is going to occupy that property for an aviation business purpose or function," she said. "But it's kind of hard to sort of market the property is available when there's still Field Day structures and that sort of thing on it."

A photo of colorful cars crashing into one another in a midway. A man in bright orange and headphones stands off to one side.
George Ouellette
Franklin County Field Days, Courtesy
Even though amusement rides and racetracks make more money at fairs, Franklin County Field Days' social media and marketing director Abagail Gagne says the fair works hard to keep agriculture at its center.

Franklin County Field Days has been at the airport for at least two decades, according to its social media and marketing director, Abigail Gagne.

This year's 47th annual fair, held earlier this month, was supposed to be the last in that location, at least from the perspective of VTrans. But Gagne says Franklin County Field Days still hasn't found a new spot.

"We have been looking for a year and a half for a new spot, and have not yet found one that fits what we need from the land," she said. "We would love to stay in our current location — it is ideal."

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What "ideal" looks like, according to Gagne, is a parcel within Franklin County that's 80 acres or so. That's bigger than the airport location — she says that would help them create a better layout for the expanding fair.

"This year, we had one of our biggest years at the fair," Gagne said. "And it could be seen that we were very tight on space."

But a smaller space would be OK, she added, as long as the soil is sandy.

“That is a must," Gagne said. "A lot of county fairs are placed on clay soil, and they are pulling cars out of their parking lots if they get even the tiniest bit of rain. And that's just something we're not wanting to do.”

A photo of a pink piglet in an enclosure, standing in a strong ray of sunlight.
George Ouellette
Franklin County Field Days, Courtesy
If you're a Franklin County landowner interested in selling at least 50 acres with sandy soil, Franklin County Field Days is asking you reach out.

What Franklin County Field Days does want to do, Gagne says, is to make its agricultural fair as accessible as possible to all of Franklin County.

"Franklin County is a farming community ... And it's great for us to see these kids come out and show their animals and have so much pride in what they do," she said. "For the community, this is an event that everybody waits all year for."

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a message.

Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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