STRATHAM – Last weekend would have marked a fair weekend in town, but for the second year in a row the Stratham Fair has been canceled as a precautionary measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fair’s absence this year as the region rebounds from the pandemic has led to speculation in town whether it will return in the future. Others wondered if the organization of the fair was still financially viable.
However, the president of the fair, Francisco Marin, maintained his confidence in the return of the fair next year.
“Have you heard of the pandemic? Said Marin. “The fair depends a lot on the weather and some years we have good weather and other years the weather is not so good, but to take the plunge, there is a financial shortage is not a reality.
“At the moment, we are planning to hold a fair in 2022,” he added. “Of course things can change, but that’s the plan we’re working on right now.”
Meanwhile, other Seacoast communities have forged ahead with large-scale events. Portsmouth hosts the Thunder Over New Hampshire Air Show September 11-12 at Pease Air National Guard Base while Hampton will have its seafood festival from September 10 to 12.
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Decisions were supposed to be made months ago
Marin compared Stratham’s experience trying to organize the fair to the challenges Tokyo Olympic organizers are facing now that fans have been barred from attending the games as a COVID-19 precaution.
“It’s easy to sit here today and say we should have had the fair, but if we had and something happened, we would be called irresponsible,” Marin said. “It’s like the Olympic Games, there is no one and without income, it is difficult. The fair takes six to seven months to plan and decisions have to be made. »
Marin said that in addition to raising money for the Volunteer Fire Department, the Stratham Fair serves as a unifying community event and is the highlight of summer for many townspeople. The fair relies entirely on volunteers to organize the festivities each year.
“Yes, offsetting the tax burden from a fire department perspective is important,” Marin said. “But the main objective is to organize a community event. The fair supports local groups like Boy Scouts, Community Church and 4H.
The fair supports the fire department
In the fair’s 52-year history, it has been the primary fundraiser for the Stratham Volunteer Fire Department Association, which supports the fire department. The fair began as a community lobster bakery in 1966 to celebrate the town’s 250th anniversary.
The fair traditionally features rides, games, events and food vendors throughout the four-day event at Stratham Hill Park. Many vendors also support other community organizations, such as an ice cream caravan that benefits the city’s youth baseball program, or a lemonade caravan run by local Boy Scout troops. A petting zoo is usually a big draw for young children. Teenagers tend to flock to rides, carnival games and food trucks.
According to the latest IRS 990 filings available for free, in 2018 the Fire Department Association reported $49,297 in total expenses versus $38,503 in total revenue. In 2017, the association reported a positive surplus of $19,408, according to that year’s Form 990.
According to the 2018 year-end fill-in on Form 990, the association held $162,410 in assets versus $29,910 in liabilities.
Dan Crow, president of the Stratham Volunteer Fire Department Association, declined to comment.
Les Barker, treasurer of the fair and treasurer of the Fire Department Association, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.