Woodstock fair is Spam-tacular; Rides, animals draw throngs.

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Byline: Sarah L. Hamby

WOODSTOCK - The 148th Woodstock Fair kicked off this Labor Day weekend and brought with it those classic fair smells: kettle corn, fried dough, clam cakes and Spam. Wait. Spam?

Butch Jackson Sr. of Sturbridge was visiting the fair with his family and they stopped to enjoy some traditional fair cuisine on their way to The Great American Spam Championship, another fair attraction. He said, "They have the best corn and chowder here."

Mr. Jackson is friends with Josh and Elinor Ives, who both participated in the competition, which featured Spam appetizers created by 13 adults and four children. Spam submissions were judged on originality, taste appeal and appearance and could contain no more than 10 ingredients.

Mrs. Ives created an appetizer she dubbed "Spam Buffalo Bites" and her husband invented "Siam Spam." Their children, Lila, 6, and Laurel, 4, were there to offer moral support, and young Lila braved a taste of her mother's recipe and said it was delicious. Unfortunately, as was the case two years ago, according to Mr. Ives, it was not quite delicious enough.

First place went to Laura Curley of Woodstock, and second place was awarded to her son, Kevin, 30, currently of Boston. Kevin's creation was Spam-stuffed jalapenos, presented on a plate drizzled with chocolate and strewn with fresh raspberries.

About 100 people gathered to watch the event and to answer trivia questions about Spam in order to win prizes from Spam account executive Amanda Smith, of North Smithfield, R.I. Ms. Smith confessed, in response to a question from the audience, "I'm gonna be very honest. I don't eat it." She paused. "I do eat it sometimes."

The Woodstock Fair appears to have something for everyone. Kris Kimbro, of Jewett City, Conn., shouted to his fiancee, first-time fairgoer Suzanne Lotocki of Jewett City, "Honey! They have chain-saw classes!"

Six-year-old Zach Atwood and his sister, 4-year-old Katie, of Woodstock were impressed with the 996-pound pumpkin prominently on display, grown by Marcia and Wes Dwelly of Woodstock. Noyes Collin of Colchester, Conn., commented, "I've been told they still make good pies."

Connecticut country music star Nicole Frechette opened the new grandstand seating with style on Friday afternoon. She entertained music fans with original compositions, as well as classic hits such as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which had young and old skipping through the fairgrounds, if not singing along.

Jo Dee Messina...

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