Fauquier County Fair hosts annual extravaganza  

By Posted on Jul 10 2018 | By

Once again, the Fauquier County Fair will hold its annual get together showcasing all things agricultural and much more. Spread over four days—July 11 through July 14—there will be over 100 events packed into one of the most successful county fairs in Virginia.

The schedule features an array of activities including: poultry shows, bike rodeos, pedal tractor pulls, cattle shows, extreme illusions & escape demonstrations, comedy shows, rodeos, ATV rodeos, hot dog and pizza eating contests to mention a mere handful.

The history of county fairs dates to the early 1800s when rural folk gathered together for community cohesion and to show off their hard-earned crafts, produce and livestock.

Today, there are some 3,200 fairs nationwide generating three million attendees. Given that America’s agrarian past has largely faded from the scene its remarkable the concept of a celebration of all things farm-like endures and thrives.

Much of that success can be traced to the passion of fair organizers and volunteers who intuitively know the value of young people being involved in something bigger than themselves.

Smiling youngsters adjusting displays, grooming livestock or displaying craft projects are a refreshing counter to the ubiquitous mobile devices locked in the hands of many of today’s youth.

“I think the only reason we do it is for the kids,” said Brenda Rich, president of the Fauquier Fair. She’s held the position for 20 years. “It takes a lot of work but it makes the kids so happy. People call us in January to find out the dates for the next fair so there’s no conflict in their planning vacations.”

Rich also says the makeup of the board of directors is important. For a while it consisted of older, experienced hands but the organization has worked hard to get a younger cohort to join. “We’ve been fortunate to incorporate a bunch of young blood onto the board. That’s really good.”

So how much work is involved for these dedicated board members? “We start planning for next year’s fair on the last day of the current one. Both board members and volunteers contribute thousands of hours of work each year,” said Rich. With 30 members of the board of directors and over 100 volunteers on-site at each fair, the work gets done in a spirit of cooperative joy.

To underscore the depth of that spirit no one gets paid, including the president.

Planning unfolds throughout the year, including an annual conference in January hosted by the Virginia Association of Fairs. The four-day conference features classes and workshops geared to improving the production and building attendance at the events. “All of us are out to entertain the public and promote agriculture.” The association helps achieve those goals.

As backdrop to the exhibits and demonstrations there are 13 food vendors and 60 craft vendors creating a carnival-like atmosphere. Burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizza, brats and specialty dishes nourish the crowd as they shop at craft tents and visit agricultural and livestock displays.

As expected, weather plays a role too. Attendance over the four days is anticipated to be around 12,000. However, rain or heat can affect those numbers. “Heat is worse than rain,” said Rich.

“If you have a heat index over 100 there will be less of a crowd.” The index is a combination of heat and humidity.

As a nod to modernity, youth who display small animals or craft projects do not have to reside on a farm. Rich believes “you don’t need to live on a farm to appreciate agriculture.”  Youth who live in subdivisions can easily raise rabbits, other small animals, create art, photography, garden crops, flowers and more.

The 45 to 50 judges who are on-site to award ribbons are also volunteers. “Once in a while a professional judge is paid to judge an animal show,” said Rich. Such a person would be the only financially compensated individual over the entire four days.

In reflecting on what the fair contributes to Fauquier County, Rich said, “Seeing these kids walking around with big smiles on their faces and carrying rabbits and chickens in their arms, marching in the chicken parade, competing in the zucchini car race, or washing and grooming their cows and calves is so exciting.”

She believes the youthful energy is given back to the county in the form of future productive adults.

The Fauquier Country Fair will be held on its 10-acre fair grounds located at 6209 Old Auburn Road. Fair hours are:

Wednesday, July 11 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Thursday, July 12    2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday, July 13        2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday, July 14     9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Adult admission is $10; children and seniors $5. Babes in arms are free.

For additional information and a full schedule of events visit https://www.fauquierfair.com/


Published in the July 6, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.


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