Wel­com­ing ad­di­tions await at next week’s St. Mary’s County Fair

The 71st an­nual St. Mary’s fair kicks off next week

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JESSE YEATMAN jyeat­man@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JesseEn­tNews

It’s al­most here. With the 71st an­nual St. Mary’s County Fair just around the cor­ner, vol­un­teers have been busy at work paint­ing, wash­ing and build­ing at the fair­grounds in Leonard­town.

John Richards, who has been pres­i­dent of the fair board since 1984, es­ti­mates that more than 50,000 vis­i­tors come to the St. Mary’s fair ev­ery Septem­ber. The fair­grounds is a busy place through­out the year, though, as var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions use the space for fes­ti­vals and other events, and vol­un­teers ren­o­vate ex­ist­ing struc­tures and beau­tify the grounds with flow­ers, shrub­bery and land­scap­ing.

The fair will kick off next Thurs­day, Sept. 21, and re­main open through Sun­day, Sept. 24. Fair­go­ers next week will be wel­comed with a new en­trance­way.

“We’re build­ing a new one that’s a lit­tle more so­phis­ti­cated, a lit­tle bit nicer,” Richards said mod­estly of the two-story-high en­trance build­ing. “It’s look­ing re­ally sharp.”

Other ren­o­va­tions and changes made at the fair­grounds over the last year in­clude re­plac­ing all of the old, wooden light poles in the park­ing lot with metal ones, and a com­plete ren­o­va­tion of the poul­try and rab­bit build­ing, in­clud­ing new sid­ing and in­su­la­tion, Richards said.

Each year, Richards and a host of other vol­un­teers set out to spruce up the fair­grounds as the main event ap­proaches. Struc­tures need to be re­painted, wood re­placed, grass wa­tered and build­ings cleaned. The list goes on.

Bob Palmby of Tall Tim­bers was work­ing dili­gently earlier this week, plan­ing a door from in­side the flow­ers build­ing. “It’s never worked right,” he said of the er­rant in­te­rior door. His wife, Mary Jane Palmby, and other mem­bers of the St. Mary’s County Gar­den Club put him up to the task this year as one of many prepa­ra­tions for the fair.

“We’ll do some more [work] later this week and next,” be­fore the start of the fair, he said. In fact, he and oth­ers set out to spruce up the flow­ers build­ing and started ar­rang­ing dis­plays a cou­ple weeks ago.

“No­body re­al­izes this goes on for weeks,” he said of the fair prepa­ra­tion. “It doesn’t hap­pen overnight.”

Last year, in ad­di­tion to a new bath­room fa­cil­ity and sev­eral build­ing re­habs, the fair un­veiled its new paved walk­way at the car­ni­val and amuse­ments area. The pave­ment helps re­duce the num­ber of dust- or mud-cov­ered sneak­ers, and will be eas­ier on strollers and wheel­chairs.

Of course be­yond the car­ni­val area, the heart of the fair rests in the an­i­mal, arts and crafts, and veg­etable ex­hibits.

Reg­is­tra­tion day is Wed­nes­day, Sept. 20. Hun­dreds of chil­dren and adults are ex­pected to en­ter items that they made or grew.

As al­ways, there are no fees to en­ter items in the fair, and there is lots of prize money avail­able to claim, with in­di­vid­ual awards of a few dol­lars each for first, sec­ond and third places in hun­dreds of con­tests.

Area farm­ers, es­pe­cially, ap­pre­ci­ate that the fair offers an op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate the gen­eral pub­lic about what goes on at a farm — in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of beef and eggs and veg­gies.

The 2017 fair is ded­i­cated to two stal­wart vol­un­teers who died earlier this year — Nancy Wolfe and Bill Veda.

Wolfe sup­ported many events at the fair, in­clud­ing youth ac­tiv­i­ties. She was the chair­per­son for the craft and hobby de­part­ments, and or­ga­nized the baby show for many years.

Veda ded­i­cated his time to the poul­try and rab­bit de­part­ments as the build­ing su­per­in­ten­dent, where he shared his knowl­edge of rais­ing chick­ens and rab­bits with oth­ers, es­pe­cially chil­dren in lo­cal 4-H pro­grams.

The corona­tion cer­e­mony of this year’s Queen of Tol­er­ance will take place the evening of Thurs­day, Sept. 21, in the main au­di­to­rium, where pho­to­graphs of past queens are dis­played. The an­nual pa­rade is planned for the morn­ing of Satur­day, Sept. 23.

The fair is open from 3 to 9 p.m. on Thurs­day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fri­day and Satur­day, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sun­day. The ad­mis­sion fee is $5 per adult, $1 per child age 6 to 12, and free for chil­dren younger than 6.

Rides and games in the car­ni­val sec­tion of the fair cost ex­tra. The car­ni­val area stays open one hour later than the rest of the fair.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the fair, pick up a fair guide — com­plete with cover de­sign by Gis­sell Her­rera of Mar­garet Brent Mid­dle School — at The En­ter­prise of­fice or at the fair­grounds, or visit www.sm­c­fair. somd.com.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JESSE YEATMAN

Painters, in­clud­ing Mike King on the lad­der, Timmy Martin, Tony Davis and Charles Dean, in­side the build­ing, work earlier this week on the new en­trance­way at the St. Mary’s County fair­grounds.

Peo­ple flock to the car­ni­val rides at the 2016 St. Mary’s fair un­der sunny skies.

Bob Palmby of Tall Tim­bers planes a door out­side of the flow­ers build­ing earlier this week at the fair­grounds in Leonard­town.

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