Welcoming additions await at next week’s St. Mary’s County Fair
The 71st annual St. Mary’s fair kicks off next week
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.
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.