At Deerfield Fair, Voters Say Presidential Race Leaves Much to be Desired

Oct 4, 2016

The 140th annual Deerfield Fair was held this past weekend.

At the Deerfield Fair, you’ve got giant pumpkins, magic shows, and plenty of fried food. And even with all that, you can’t escape politics this time of year.

And with just about a month to go before voters head to the polls, Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spent a day at the fair talking with people about their thoughts on the presidential election.

There’s a lot of mooing going on, as about a half-dozen highland cows parade around with their owners for Friday morning’s cattle competition.

Karen Maxfield of Loudon watches from the stands, and says she never misses the Deerfield Fair.

“Every year; for the last 10, 12 years we’ve come. It’s just friendly to everybody, there’s a larger variety of things to do and to see.”

But while Maxfield never tires of the fair, one thing that is wearing on her is politics; more specifically, the race for the White House.

“We get more surveys; I finally said this is the ninth call today, I’m not taking any more surveys,” she said. “But I have a problem with the choices we have this year. I don’t feel either one is a quality person. When you have 300 million people in a country, how do you come down to these two?”

She tells me it’s not just the candidates; the negative tone of the race is turning her off.

“I don’t like the name calling, I don’t like the bashing. Even within the state, you’re seeing that in the governor’s race. There’s a lot of faults on both sides.”

Pam Morabito, of Worcester, Mass., and Karen Maxfield of Loudon.
Credit Michael Brindley

“Are you more hopeful with the governor’s race or the Senate race than you would be with the presidential race?”

“Yes, I’m hopeful with the Senate race. I’m supporting Ayotte. I’m very pleased with what she’s done.”

Maxfield is willing to say who she’s backing for Senate, but she doesn’t want to share who’s getting her vote for president.

“You know, it’s tough to make a decision, but I’m pretty sure I’ve made my decision which way I’m going. It’s not necessarily that I’m real happy with it.”

I hear that from a lot of people, as I walk though endless rows of vendors. The smell of fried food overwhelms.

You can grab a turkey leg at one booth, or a bag of kettle corn at another. And of course there’s a long line for fried pickles.

That’s where I find Laura Crandall of Wilton, who says she isn’t exactly thrilled with her choices for president.

“One’s never been in office and is a buffoon. And the other one’s loaded with scandal and not trustworthy.”

That being said, Crandall says she’s made up her mind.

“It may change, but it’s probably going to be Hillary because I can’t stand Trump. I think he’s inexperienced, I don’t think he’s professional, I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about, and I think he’s going to cause problems with other countries.”

So what gives her pause about voting for Clinton?

“I don’t think she’s overly trustworthy. And she’s a Democrat. I kind of wanted to vote Republican, but I think she has the experience.  I don’t think she’ll mess up relations with other countries. And she’s a woman, and I do like that.”

Later, I strike up a conversation with a young couple – Dan and Brittany O’Neil of Concord. They’re in their 20s and expecting their first child.

“We’re eating, and that’s the only reason we’re here,” Brittany says, laughing.

“I came for the Italian sausage, came for the apple crisp, and have been successful so far,” adds Dan.

We talk about living in a battleground state and whether the flood of advertising makes a difference:

“No. We’re decided and fliers in the mail aren’t going to change our minds, so it’s just a waste of time and paper and stamps and energy really,” Brittany says.

They both say they’re leaning toward Trump, and I ask them why:

“Well, honestly, so a vote for Hillary, you know it’s probably going to be another eight years of nothing happening,” Dan says. “A vote for Trump, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a surprise, you know what I mean?”

Bands take the stage at Relaxation Grove at the Deerfield Fair.

“I’m really in the Trump boat because I’m not in the Hillary boat,” adds Brittany.

And like many millennials, they resist aligning themselves with a political party.

“No, it’s more about the issues. You have to pay attention to figure out the issues, so I feel like it’s lazy to pick a party and just go with it,” says Brittany.

I keep walking, following the music to Relaxation Grove.

That’s where I find Jeff Forcier of Bedford. He comes to the fair each year with his family, and says he enjoys the variety of musical acts.

“We also see a lot of people that we know. It’s kind of a gathering place for people we never see throughout the year, but we see them here.”

Forcier is a Republican and is a self-described political junkie. He’s backing Trump, but admits the billionaire businessman is far from his ideal candidate.

“He’s horrible at debating. He’s not a kind person. He has a hard time I think communicating and being specific on the issues. He’s way too general. That being said, you could not pay me enough money to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

And as the music picks back up, Forcier says he knows a lot of people who aren’t sold on either candidate.

“In my circle, I talk with a lot of people who are Republican, but they’re uncomfortable voting for Trump and they’re not going to. So it’s not really undecided, it’s more like I’ve decided I’m not going to vote for either one because I don’t like either one.”

And as for what happens after the election, Forcier isn’t optimistic.

“Whoever gets elected, whether it’s Hillary or Trump, I’m not real excited about the future of America for either one, to be honest.”

But for now, at least we’ve got the turkey legs and fried pickles.