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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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There’s something for everyone at the fair

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Every fair has that distinctive smell, that mixture of fresh-spun cotton candy, deep fried funnel cakes and sticky, sweet candied apples blended with an occasional whiff of livestock.

It’s an aroma that takes most folks back to a favorite childhood memory.

It’s an aroma that seeps through the windows and air vents of an automobile on a hot August afternoon in Warsaw. With that smell and the sound of high-pitched screams of children, visitors know they’ve reached the Richmond County Fair, which brings all the fun of a state fair home to the Northern Neck.

This year the Richmond County Fair, from August 25 to 29, celebrates its 21st year on the fairgrounds on Route 3.

The five-day event, which features livestock exhibits, carnival rides and nightly entertainment, got its start in 1988 when Kelly Liddington assumed his role as the Richmond County Extension Office agent.

“We had a very modest start,” said Liddington. “It began as a three-day event and has now grown to five. It’s a free event, always has been.”

Some 13,000 visitors come to the fair each year to listen to music, browse through the hundreds of exhibits, ride the Ferris wheel and take a chance at winning that elusive giant stuffed animal.

“When I got here 22 years ago, they didn’t have a county fair and I said how can you have a viable 4-H program without a county fair,” said Liddington.

Fair planning starts in January each year and about 250 volunteers help make the event a success.

Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Today, the fair features thousands of horticulture and craft competitions for everything from the best looking candied apples and biggest tomatoes to handmade baskets and metalwork.

There is literally something for everyone at the fair.

The competitions have five different divisions, including primary (10 years and under), junior youth (11-14 years old), senior youth (15-18 years old), adult (19 years and older) and assisted living seniors/nursing home residents.

There’s livestock judging of cows, pigs and chickens. Pigs even get a chance to race this year.

And there’s music, lots of music. Soul, gospel, bluegrass and country bands perform nightly.

For the young, and young at heart, there’s the midway with carnival rides by Rosedale Attractions of Maryland.

Along with the traditional carnival fare — popcorn, lemonade, funnel cakes and sweets — there are also numerous booths with food from local restaurants. There’s pizza, crabcakes, Italian sausages, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Nightly bingo draws a more sedentary crowd, as does the stage area where visitors are invited to pull up a bale of hay, kick off their shoes and relax or do the two-step while listening to the sounds of local bands.

It appeals to the kid in all of us

by Tom Chillemi

Photo by Tom Chillemi
No matter how young or old, there still are thrills at the Gloucester County Fair.

Carnival rides whirl, swirl and twirl those looking for a thrill.

The carnival’s bright lights build anticipation. Thrill rides you’ll find nowhere else but at a fair are waiting.

The swings, an old favorite, spin riders in a circle, bringing instant smiles.

Screams come from way up high on the “Super Shot” as riders get weightless for a few seconds and their stomachs flutter. No hands apparently makes it more intense.

For the brave, there’s the Loop O Plane, which multiplies the force of gravity as it spins vertically.

The Ferris wheel gives a view of the fair at a gentle pace.

Although Disneyland is more than 50 years old, these portable rides beckon to the child in all of us to step right up.

Then there are the adventure walks. Who knows what mysteries lie behind the brightly-painted wall?

Advance ride sale tickets are $13 and allow the holder to unlimited rides. Call Gloucester Parks, Recreation and Tourism at 693-2355 or email .

The games of the midway look so easy, which is their attraction.

It’s not hard to get pulled in and try to win a stuffed animal or other valued prizes.

These feats of hand-eye coordination challenge the player to pop the correct balloon with a dart or shoot a stream of water to fill a balloon until it pops. “A winner every time.”

Marksmen can try to shoot out a small star on paper with a BB gun. (One shooter advises to not shoot at the star, but shoot a circle around the star so it falls out.)

Come out and see what’s new or relive a memory. It’s all at the 39th Annual Gloucester County Fair August 12-16 at Ark Park on Route 17, two miles north of Gloucester Court House.

Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 14–16.

There is free admission on Wednesday and Thursday, August 12–13.

See details at http://www.gloucestervainfo/pr/events/fair.htm.

The theme for this year’s fair is “Keeping Gloucester Green.” The Gloucester Clean Community Coordinator and Committee will be recognized for their efforts in keeping Gloucester clean and green.

Taste the best of Gloucester

Photo by Tom Chillemi
Get a taste of the home-grown flavor of Gloucester County at the 39th Gloucester County Fair.

There’s something for everyone. Visitors can stroll through a wide variety of exhibits including prized animals; go for a horse-drawn cart ride; and, for the adventuresome, there are the carnival rides and games.

It all starts on Wednesday, August 12, and continues through Sunday, August 16, at Ark Park on Route 17, two miles north of Gloucester Court House.

The fair will showcase the gardening and homemaking skills of local residents. There are dozens of competition categories, including field crops, home gardens, crafts and hobbies, photography, art, flowers and baked goods. There’s also pickles, jams and jellies, and cakes, pies and breads. Each category has a class for youths through 18 years of age.

A special contest this year, sponsored by the Virginia Ad Council, seeks to find the best angel food cake. First, second and third places win cash prizes and are eligible to enter the Virginia State Fair.

A similar contest sponsored by the Gloucester County Fair looks for the best pound cake and also awards cash prizes.

The best cakes will be auctioned on Friday. August 14, at 6:30 p.m. on the main stage.

Youth ages 9-18 can enter the cookie or brownie baking contest, which has cash prizes.

All other categories win ribbons.

To find out more, call Marilyn Morris at 693-2602 or visit http://www.gloucestervainfo/pr/events/fair.htm.

posted 07.30.2009

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