Livestock trailers and carnival rides have arrived, the big tents have been pitched and the grounds are ready for today's opening of the 2013 Harford County Farm Fair.
The fair runs Thursday through Sunday at the Harford County Equestrian Center on Tollgate Road in Bel Air. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Daily admission is $8 for adults, $4 for kids ages 5 to 11 and children under 4 get in free. Senior citizens are admitted for $5 on Thursday only.
Free off-site parking is available each day at Red Pump Elementary School at 600 Red Pump Road in Bel Air; Patterson Mill High School at 85 Patterson Mill Road in Bel Air; and in the field off of Vale Road a mile west of Rock Spring Road. Parking is also available at the "blue lot" off of Tollgate Road across from the fairgrounds. Free shuttle buses between the parking sites and the fairgrounds will operate from 9 a.m. until one hour after closing with an approximate 15 to 20-minute wait.
This year's 26th annual Harford County Farm Fair will have a carnival and midway, something not tried before during the fair. Last year, the fair hosted a carnival a week before the fair, but it did not do well, mainly because of thunderstorms and 100-degree temperatures.
Aimee O'Neill, the fair's co-chair, said that in the past fair organizers wanted to avoid becoming known as a midway, but she said there was clearly a lot of interest in the carnival.
"We felt it would bring in new and different people to the fair," O'Neill said last week about the carnival. "It will complement the fair."
"[The carnival] is embedded within the fairgrounds itself, so even if [people's] primary intent in coming to the fair is to enjoy the carnival, they will also have an opportunity to see the fair's true focus, which is the [Future Farmers of America], 4-H and the ag community," she said.
The fair committee also hopes the carnival will bring in more revenue during what continues to be tough economic times for putting on a fair, she said.
Admission to the carnival, which will be in the center of the fairgrounds on Tollgate Road across from the information tower, will be in addition to the regular fair tickets.
An all-day carnival pass will cost $20. The carnival will run the same hours as the fair and is being hosted this time by Sherwood Amusements.
The fair will still offer the traditional kidway children's attractions and games as part of the regular fair admission.
The fair also will again have everything from pig races to peach pie contests, tractor pulls and the annual Miss Harford County Farm Bureau competition.
The prayer breakfast kicked off the fair on Thursday morning and opening day will be capped off with the antique tractor pull competition at 5:30 p.m., the Miss Harford County Farm Bureau contest at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 9:15 p.m. (rain date on Friday).
The 4-H livestock shows will be held throughout the day on Thursday and Friday and the annual 4-H livestock auction starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Talent Contest will be returning on Friday and Saturday nights.
More information and the fair schedule is available at http://www.farmfair.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun