MOUNT AIRY — After being cut short by Hurricane Irma last year, optimism is bright for the 2018 edition of the Surry County Agricultural Fair, which begins later this week in Mount Airy.
The fair, now in its 71st year, is scheduled for a five-day run, from Thursday through next Monday, at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street. Gates will open Thursday at 4 p.m. to kick off the event and at the same time on Friday. Gates will open at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 3 p.m. Monday.
In addition to rides and games provided by Powers and Thomas Midway Entertainment, the fair will feature special entertainment; livestock, educational, horticultural, arts and crafts, baked goods and other exhibits; a variety of food; and just old-fashioned fun.
Registration for exhibits closes at 7 p.m. today, with judging to start Wednesday morning.
“We’ve got three shows coming for entertainment this year,” Katherine Thorne, who co-chairs the fair, said of its special attractions.
This includes Nojoe & Toot’s Clown Circus, billed as the only father-son duo to win Clowns of the Year, which has appeared at the fair in the past. “It’s been several years,” Thorpe said.
Dakota and Friends, a traveling show of puppet dinosaurs, also will be returning to Mount Airy after an absence of two years. Dakota and Friends proved to be a hit with kids when debuting at the local fair in 2016.
The Mason-Dixon Boys chainsaw carving show is another entertainment entry on the bill.
It will be an ongoing attraction during all five days of the fair, while multiple shows by Nojoe & Toot’s Clown Circus and Dakota and Friends are scheduled from Thursday through Sunday.
One of the most popular parts of the Surry County Agricultural Fair is Carload Day, which is set for Monday. On that day, a carload of people will be admitted for $40. That price covers parking, gate admission, unlimited ride armbands and entertainment.
Carload Day was a casualty of last year’s fair, which had the same five-day schedule, but was cut short by one day, with Monday dropped, due to the effects of Hurricane Irma including a high-wind advisory for this area.
“And that was our Carload Day,” Thorpe lamented regarding its cancellation. “A lot of people were disappointed — the storm messed up everything.”
Still, fair attendance for 2017 totaled “right at 10,000,” Thorpe related. “And we lost our big day — for the rest of the days it was fairly busy.”
That’s despite the weather being uncooperative overall. “We did have a lot of rain,” Thorpe said.
The advance forecast for this year’s fair looks much better — with no mention of hurricanes.
Other special days
Along with Carload Day, other times of the fair are devoted to different groups or observances.
School Night will be held Thursday, offering free admission and discount rides.
Football Frenzy Night is planned Friday, when presenting a game ticket or student ID is good for free entry after 9 p.m.
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day, when free gate admission will be offered with a proper military ID.
Sunday is Buy One Get One Free Day, to cover gate admission, armbands and foods at participating vendors.
Regular general admission will cost $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-10, with those 3 and younger to be admitted free with a paying adult. The cost for senior adults (62 and older) is $3 with proper identification.
Tickets for rides may be bought separately or through a one-price armband costing $25. Thorpe said coupons have been distributed to schools and businesses which provide $5 off that price.
The fair official is excited about the continued presence of Powers and Thomas Midway Entertainment, a Wilmington-based company that will be at the Surry County fair for the third straight year.
Thorpe praised the quality of its rides, some of which also will be part of the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem to begin later this month.
She is further enthused about the livestock shows, highlighted by cattle, sheep and goats. “That’s looking good for us this year,” said Thorpe, who coordinates animal exhibits for the fair in addition to co-chairing the event.
“Last year we put in a new cattle-wash area and we’ve been working on our barn area to get it in better condition,” she said.
The fair is being presented by Veterans Memorial Park in conjunction with local American Legion Post 123 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2019, as a collaborative venture of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs.
More information can be found on the Surry County Agricultural Fair website at http://www.surrycountyagfair.org.