Posted by: A Part of the Solution | July 29, 2010

The County Fair

It’s that time of year. Here in the dog days of summer, the fair becomes the main focus of local attention for one full week. Though Bedford County isn’t densely populated (about fifty thousand people the last time anyone counted), the fair is thick with visitors and competitors. It’s an all-day good time for every day it’s open. And it’s an entertainment bargain to boot.

Pay one admission fee to get in. This allows access to the barns where the show animals are in residence. This gets you into the halls to see the knitting, canning, baking and other homely crafts in competition with each other. This gives you a place at the show ring where the livestock are judged. And this gets you onto the midway rides (open at four pm). Admission doesn’t cover the cost of the fair fare.

All the usual suspects are in play at the Bedford County Fair. There’re funnel cakes and sno-cones and foot long hot dogs and local BBQ and all manner of things deep fried–from chicken wings to Milky Way bars. There’s freshly made lemonade, and soda fountains and bottled water too. Take your choice, and stay hydrated whatever else you do at the fair.

Every evening, there’s a demolition derby. This year, the tractor parade was on Wednesday, but you’ll have to check the annual schedule if this is a high point for you like it is for so many. There were more than twenty antique tractors in the parade, in addition to the more modern and shiny ones.

Farmers and townsfolk mingle and stroll through the grounds. You can see the pigs race, or support the Rotary by buying snacks at their stand. And you can have your picture taken with the Bedford County Fair Queen–or the Draft Animal Queen if the line’s too long for the Fair Queen.

There are numerous rides on the midway of suffient violence of motion that at least one of our WWOOFers became unwell from too much spinning, shaking and centrifugal force. There are animals both rare and ugly, as well as those both rare and lovely to see in the rings or in their temporary stalls.

Strike up a conversation with a 4-Her. Initiate a dialogue with the farmer staffing the Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Committee booth. Chat with the woman selling you your commemorative  Bedford County Fair t-shirt. Everyone is friendly, and no one’s in a hurry–unless their show class has just been called to the livestock judging ring.

I was haunting the craft halls admiring a friend’s entrant in the chicken stock category, the canned carrots competition and the piccalilli challenge. I examined the knitted sweaters, comparing them in my mind to my grandmother’s work (she was a prize taker at the Montgomery County Fair in Maryland for decades). I wondered if my chocolate cake could have taken down the blue ribbon winner I saw there.

The fair is a fine way to get into the groove of country living. It’s a window on values and a way of life almost eclipsed in our modern, urban age.  These fairs are records of what we can do with our hands and our resources and our desire to shine in all our endeavors.



  1. Next year: Take ’em down!!

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