New Milford Village Fair Days returns for 50th year

NEW MILFORD — The 50th annual Village Fair Days kicked off to cheers last Friday as this year’s king and queen cut the ribbon.

Maura and Fred Pauli, ages 68 and 72, respectively, have been attending the festival since they moved to New Milford 21 years ago. Maura Pauli said they love seeing community members at the fair and visiting the booths. She said it was an honor to be named this year’s king and queen, especially on the 50th anniversary.

“It felt really special,” she said. “We’re so happy to be able to share it with so many friends and family.”

The two-day fair, sponsored by the New Milford Chamber of Commerce, took place on the Village Green.

The event began as a sidewalk sale and has evolved into a community event with about 200 vendors and nonprofits setting up booths.

This year’s fair returned to its roots with the closure of Bank Street so businesses could be more involved, said Mayor David Gronbach.

“It’s a great milestone,” Gronbach said. “It’s amazing to think it’s been 50 years.”

State Rep. Bill Buckbee, R-New Milford, noted the significance of the anniversary by reading a proclamation from Hartford.

“Village Fair Days has had such a positive impact on our community and we proudly celebrate 50 years of food, fun and friends,” he said.

Connor Rivera, 10, said he has enjoyed coming to the fair for the past seven years. His favorite part has been manning a booth with Cub Scout Troop 467, where he tells people about the troop’s activities and involvement.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “I really like working here, asking for donations to help our community.”

While many booths and faces surrounding the Village Green were familiar, visitors enjoyed new attractions last Friday.

The New Milford High School Booster Club’s dunk tank and the car show were among the new activities. Saturday’s festivities also had new features, with a farmers market and a touch-a-truck event. A time capsule enclosed in the Scovill Building in 1957 as part of the town’s 250th anniversary was opened.

A scaled-down replica of the bandstand, called “Wishing New Milford Well,” was meant to commemorate the anniversary of the festival, as well as give back to the community by encouraging visitors to drop money for different nonprofits into its slots.

This year’s festival is noteworthy because it was the last with Bob Hanna as chairman of the Village Fair Days Committee. Hanna served on the committee for 22 years, with eight as the chairman.

He said this year’s event was emotional for him and he thanked everyone for their support over the years.

“I’m gone, but hopefully not forgotten,” he said. “I can come back next year and have some food.”

KKoerting@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345