BLUE Hill, Maine — Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to gather in this coastal town beginning Thursday for the Blue Hill Fair, an annual end-of-summer celebration featuring rides, animals and — new this year — the fair’s own “Idol” competition.

Billed as the “down-to-earth country fair,” the Blue Hill Fair runs Sept. 1-5 on the town’s fairgrounds, located on Route 172.

Fair President Rob Eaton said that, in addition to rides and food vendors, all of the traditional activities will be back, including horse and tractor pulls, sheep dog competitions, arts and crafts shows, livestock competitions, musical performances and the ever-popular women’s skillet toss championship.

One of the new additions for the 2011 lineup is “Blue Hill Fair Idol,” a local singing competition modeled after FOX-TV’s “American Idol.” Eaton said about 25 people have signed up so far but that they are hoping to have at least 35 to 40 participants.

“We’ll take them up until 4:30 [p.m.] on Thursday,” Eaton said. The competition is open to any “amateur entertainer” age 16 or older. Judging will be done by a panel of local personalities that on the final day is expected to include Ashley Underwood, a former University of Maine basketball player and Miss Maine who made it to the finale of this year’s “Survivor” television show.

Other featured events include a performance on Monday by the Bellamy Brothers, two performances on Saturday by the Tim Dyson FMX Motorcycle Stunt Team, Hot Dog Pig Racing, the Great Maine Lumberjack Show and the Disc-Connected K9s dog acrobatics team.

About 30,000 spectators annually attend the Blue Hill Fair, which has been held since 1891.

“You always hear people say they see people here that they haven’t seen all year,” Eaton said.

The fair opens 4 p.m. Thursday. For information, go to