Since the early 1950s, the grandstand at Presque Isle’s Northern Maine Fairgrounds has given fairgoers a place to sit while they watched truck-pulls, demolition derbies, some amazing musical performances, and fireworks.

It looks like that era may be coming to an end.

According to an article on The County website, the 74-year-old grandstand has been closed due to safety concerns.  The closure went into effect immediately, and it appears that the wooden structure may never reopen.

The grandstand reportedly failed to pass inspection, and lacks what is needed for ADA compliance.

A plan is in place to make sure there will be adequate seating at this year’s Northern Maine Fair, which will take place from July 31 through August 4.  Aluminum bleachers will be place in front of the wooden grandstand.  They will seat just over 1,400 people, and are equipped to be wheelchair and electric vehicle accessible.

The new bleachers cost $200,000.  The fair organization took out a loan for the bleachers.  They plan to be the loan back through donations.  The article goes on to explain that they have already collected about $45,000 in donations.

Kevin Jarret / Unsplash
Kevin Jarret / Unsplash

What will happen to the old grandstand?

The future of the grandstand is up in the air.

There is hope that funding will be found so that the grandstand can be updated.

If that does not happen, the grandstand may have to be torn down.

A personal story

As a native of Houlton, the Northern Maine Fair was my "home fair".  Even though we occasionally went to other fairs, we always attended the Northern Maine Fair.  As a young kid, my family’s annual trip to the fair was the one day I really looked forward to each summer.

Even though I have many great memories of the fair, like the rides, the food, and taking the Pepsi challenge (hey, it was the '80s!), one of the things that stick out most in my memory is the massive grandstand.  As a little kid, it always felt like the massive grandstand dominated the fairgrounds.

All these years later, I can still remember sitting in my dad's lap was we watched the truck pulls from that enormous grandstand.  If I remember correctly, there were vendors located under the grandstand.  Just like at many other fairs, people in these booths were selling everything from leather products, to fudge, to Ronco products (again, it was the '80s).

If it is not save, the loss of the grandstand will be felt by thousands of people who have attended the fair over the last seven decades.

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