Sixth-generation farmer Martha Clark said the excessive rain in the spring caused many farmers to plant late. The heat has altered the timetables for crops such as tomatoes and berries.

Despite the heat and the wet spring, which have delayed ripening, Hill and other fair officials expect good produce.

"We always have a strong showing in tomatoes and other items you can grow in your backyard garden," Hill said. "You don't need 100 acres to come and showcase your tomatoes or cucumbers."

Produce from the Clark Elioak Farm will be reserved for the family's 30-year-old roadside stand, but Clark said the farm will be represented at the fair.

"We loan a few animals to the petting zoo and farm that's at the fair," she said. "We ran it for a couple of years, and we still work with them. Anything we can do to contribute, we're happy to do."

Being a part of the fair is a tradition for Clark and other area farmers.

"We all work very hard, long hours and don't get out much. It's always great for us to meet family and friends and reconnect and see how the kids have grown and who is showing what cows, sheep and pigs," Clark said. "We're watching the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of people we've watched for the last 50 years."

But the farmers aren't the only people who benefit from the fair, Clark said.

"It helps people realize that there is still a viable farming industry in Howard County, and that is great," she said. "I think if people see all those animals and kids and see how vibrant the fair is, that's a great thing."

Although the fair's main focus is on Howard County agriculture, its activities and offerings include magic shows, pig races, a robotics competition and bingo. A featured musical act is scheduled each day of the fair, ranging from oldies to bluegrass to soul and rhythm and blues.

If you go

What: The Howard County Fair

When: Aug. 6-13, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Where: Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Howard County Fair Road, West Friendship 21794

Cost: $5 general admission, $2 for seniors; rides cost extra. Free parking.

For information, call 410-442-1022 or go to