By noon on opening day Thursday, the 2011 Farm Fair was in full swing and full of families.
This year is the 24th year the fair has been in Harford County, held at the Harford County Equestrian Center. With several moon bounces, a small corn maze and of course, the animals, the Farm Fair is a popular event for families. The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today (Friday), 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Gina Falls, of Forest Hill, was at the Farm Fair for the third time, with her daughter, Alexa, 6.
"I think it's just a great place for kids," she said.
With Falls were Carolanne and Jack Kappus, 5, both of Forest Hill. Kappus noted the addition of the corn maze, a change from the 11 years she had been coming to the Farm Fair. Kappus enjoys the "family atmosphere," she said, but Jack and Alexa favored the goats, as they lingered by the wire fences.
The two liked them for different reasons though. Although Alexa liked the goats "because they're cute," Jack preferred them because "they honk."
The animals were definitely a hit at the Farm Fair, for all different ages. Caitlin Haren, 11, and her father, Joe Haren, came for the first time this year, though her mother, Barbara Haren, had been before.
Haren, who plans to become a veterinarian and farmer, she said, thought the event was "great."
"I love it," she said. "There's lots of animals and you learn a lot."
The Valentin family was there for the first time too, having just moved to Abingdon. Jason Valentin and his children, Aiden, 5, and Kennedy, 2, spent some time under the pavilion that housed chickens and rabbits. But Aiden's favorite part was being able to pet thehorses.
"There's a lot ofhorses," he said. "I likehorses."
Valentin said the event was "phenomenal," adding that his kids loved it. Events like the Farm Fair, he said, are important.
"I do believe people need to get back to realizing that value of having animals around," he said.
Learning is a big part of the Farm Fair, which, according to the website, was formed to "promote Harford County's agricultural heritage," as well as incorporate the local 4-H and Future Farmers of America student groups. Several 4-H members were on hand Thursday, displaying their animals, including Gloria Sedney, 14.
Gloria, an incoming freshman to John Carroll School from Forest Hill, stood in a pen with her family's huacaya alpacas. This was Gloria's second year bringing animals to the Farm Fair, but she said her sister had brought animals in the past.
Bringing alpacas in particular, which her family has had for three years, is fun, Gloria said, because she can teach people about them.
"Not many people know about alpacas," she said, "and it's a really good chance to teach them because they're really cool animals."
One of the coolest things about alpacas, she continued, was that even though they appear very shy, once they learn to trust a person, they are very "sweet."
Another favorite thing about the Farm Fair, she added, it that it brings people together.
"I like [that] so many different people come together from all around Harford County and all around Maryland," she said.
Noah Sekowski, 11, has been in 4-H for five years and showing animals and his woodworking skills off at the Farm Fair for the past three. He shows all different types of animals, from cows and chickens to goats and sheep, but his favorite part is being with his friends.
"It's fun and everybody's here," he said.
Noah, a sixth-grader at St. Margaret Middle, had already won one ribbon, a first-place prize in woodworking for his rabbit grooming table. That, combined with the opportunity to show his animals, makes the Farm Fair a welcome event.
"It's a lot of fun showing animals," he added.
A former 4-H member, Lindsey Plott came on opening day with her mother, Gina Plott, and with her 10-month-old daughter, Zalia Plott-Edwards. Growing up, Lindsey Plott said, she showed horses at the Farm Fair and this year it was important to come for her daughter's first year and to "[get] her around farm animals."
In addition to farm animals, the Farm Fair also had a variety of vendors and events, including The Lone Ranger & Silver Show, as well as barnyard bingo, antique tractor pulls and pig races. Several churches set up shop too, offering face painting and free bracelets, including Oak Grove Baptist Church, which member Helena Foster said was the first church to come, starting 24 years ago.
The Oak Grove tent had face painting, bracelets, balloon animals and free water, she said.
"We're trying to share our faith," she added, "and serve our community."