Three cheers for small-town America! I know small towns and villages can be narrow and stifling and ingrown—but they can also put on festivals that warm my heart and give me hope for our country. I love the Independence Day parade and party put on by little Geneva, Florida, an eclectic and heart-warming mix of modern America and old-time Florida. And I'm sure that if I were in Hillsboro, New Hampshire this weekend, I would love their Fest and Fair, which sounds like something from my own childhood. Until this year, the event was called the Balloon Festival and Fair.

Long ago, nine balloon pilots lived in Hillsborough. They’ve all left or stopped flying, and balloons have become too expensive for the fair, which serves as a fundraiser for local firefighters and service organizations, Daley said, so the Hillsboro Balloon Festival and Fair has dropped “balloon” from its name.

The man quoted above is Jon Daley, our son-in-law. In addition to being one of the town's three selectmen (the form of local government in New England), he is a fireman and an EMT with the Hillsboro Fire Department, and his wife (our daughter) is part of the Ladies' Auxiliary, so planning for, working at, and attending the Fest and Fair is mandatory in their family.

Mandatory—and fun, at least for the kids, even without the balloons. I suspect one or more of our grandchildren may be running a lemonade stand there, too.

The fair hopes a bigger car show and a new skillet toss will bring fresh air.

The skillet toss must be New England's equivalent of Geneva's cow-chip toss (which in these modern times does not use the real thing, in case you were wondering).

Aside from the lack of hot-air balloons, there was only one thing I found depressing about the article:

[This year] here will be cheaper beer. “Before we had fancy beers, and everyone said they don’t like fancy beers, so we’re doing Bud and Bud Light,” Daley said.

Better stick with the lemonade.

The fireworks – “a lot better, a lot bigger, a lot longer than any of the other small-town stuff,” according to Daley – are back. So is one of last year’s hot draws: the unicorns. “This year they’re bringing two bigger horses too,” Daley said, clarifying that he meant to refer to horses’ elusive and horned relatives.

I know a couple of Swiss granddaughters who would want to come to the fair for the unicorns alone.

Admission is free, though some activities may cost money, and parking is $10 per car. No animals, aside from working service dogs, are allowed.

And unicorns.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 9:39 am | Edit
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The vendor slots are 'way above Joy's lemonade stand budget at the moment. There is a vendor who is selling fresh-squeezed lemonade, though.

Posted by joyful on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Yes, but the quality is probably the same, and if Joy charged the $5 per lemonade or whatever they are charging, she could afford the $300 for a space...

Mom says they should have just put the whole article in a quote.

I do wish they would do a little more work cleaning up the quotes. We talked for 20 minutes, and some of the sentences are kind of odd out of context.

Fortunately, I don't think the firefighters read the Monitor, otherwise I'll hear about the "fancy beer" for a long time. I always forget to be careful with my words when talking with reporters. Our local ones usually don't do too many quotes, so I've gotten lax.

The "nine pilot" thing is something I've heard a bunch of people say, but last night I was standing next to a former pilot when someone asked why there weren't any balloons, and he said there used to be five pilots in Hillsboro, so I assume he has the right number.

We usually lose money on the beer tent, and it looks like we'll make money this year, though not as much as we had originally hoped. And some were worried that more beer would turn it back into what some call the "good old days" when police had to be involved, when there was a lot of free beer hanging around. I think the $5 per 14 ounce tends to keep that in check.

Posted by Jon Daley on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 8:47 am

I also found out why our fireworks are better than any town's fireworks that I've ever seen. We spend more than most.

I grew up with these fireworks, and I was excited to go to a small city and see theirs, and wasn't impressed at all. The big cities definitely have better shows, but most places are pretty short and don't have nearly the effects that we get.

Posted by Jon Daley on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 8:49 am
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