Windsor Fair on Sundays for food, fun and friendly competition

Bill Shores of Vassalboro will drive the oxen team on Sunday after collecting ribbons on the opening day of the Windsor Fair. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

WINDSOR — The most difficult thing in competition is the patience to wait your turn.

Bill Shores spent the opening day of the Windsor Fair on Sunday morning at the Wannar Pulling Grandstand, using quiet words, dab and goads to keep the young suspect from getting too bored or in trouble. I tapped it with

A pair of Chianina cows, whom Shores named Cracker and Jack, stand yoked together near the entrance to the tow ring, moving from foot to foot and away from large golf carts that putt-putt behind them. did.

“I thought it would be a surprise to see what they would come up with, like a prize in a Crackerjack box,” Shores said.

Shores competes for fun, but for him the challenge is to train the animals to work in a certain way.

“It’s a lot more than it looks,” says Shores, who owns Riverwind Farm in Vasalboro. “Some say you’re just driving a stupid cow, but that’s not all. You have to give a lot of trust and respect.”

The pair are now about a year old and weighed 1,480 pounds together on Sunday morning. Large white Italian cows are noted for their strength and are commonly used in pull-he events rather than the steer-hi scooting events Shores has signed up for.

Born out of the practice of using oxen and bulls to haul logs out of the forest, steer scooting requires precision rather than strength. Handlers must guide teams pulling wooden sleds around the arena in a figure-eight pattern, moving between pairs of blocks and clearing them without bumping or knocking them over. Teams are scored on cleanness of run and time.

“It’s insane how strong and powerful they are,” Shores said.

Competitors will be stacked outside the pull ring on Sunday with the steer team on the first day of the Windsor Fair. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

When they are fully grown, each Chianina stands over 6 feet tall and weighs around 3,000 pounds.

Fair President Thomas Foster sat in a golf cart not far away on the first official day of the nine-day fair, surveying the crowds that filled the way and filtering through exhibitions and events.

One of the factors that made the fair a success was the weather, and Sunday looked good, Foster said. As an old farm boy, he said he used to watch long-range forecasts, but he doesn’t care anymore. In recent memory, he only had one occasion, the final day, when the fair was closed due to bad weather, due to a hurricane rushing in.

This year, the fair has been running since 1888 and features traditional events, activities, vendors and fair food trucks.

New this year: Farmers Markets allow onlookers to purchase produce to take home. The construction of the boards and battens was nearly completed before the start of the fair. Need to add some battens to the back.

Before the round, Shores thought his pair would do pretty well. Earlier this summer, he took Cracker and Jack to the Union Fair and finished 3rd out of 7 pairs.

Shores and his team performed well until the end, when one of the helmsmen caught a glimpse of the distraction on the final turn grandstand and knocked over one of the blocks, adding 32 points to the score. On the strength of these numbers, he placed 6th out of his 11 teams.

“Not bad,” he said. “I think it’s an experience.”

And as Shores continues to compete, it will come in handy in the future. However, he soon stated that he planned to take Cracker and Jack to the Clinton Fair, which begins September 8.

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