Harford Farm Fair draws 40,000 after 26-year absence

From The Aegis dated Aug. 11, 1988:

The first Harford County Farm Fair in 26 years attracted more than 40,000 people to the equestrian center in Bel Air 25 years ago this week, a crowd that far exceeded organizers' expectations, who were hoping for 15,000.

"Yeah, I think for a first year and considering it was a bunch of amateurs who put it on, everything went pretty good," said Dr. Richard Cook. "Truthfully, it went way beyond our expectations."

The fair featured farm displays, tractor and horse pulls, a 4-H animal auction, dog races, horse shows and buffalo chip tosses, among other things.

To start the fair, Kim Archer was named the Harford County Farm Queen. The 19-year-old, who lived on her parents' 500-acre dairy/crop farm in Pylesville, said she did everything on the farm.

"I milk cows, I drive anything they let me get on including the combine and all the farm trucks. I bail hay. I stack hay - now that's a really hot job," Archer said. "I really love everything about farming."

The Winters Run watershed suffered extensive damage a week before because of a mudslide triggered by dirt washed away from nearby construction sites.

A stormwater pond near the I-95/Route 24 interchange failed to contain the runaway mud, county officials said, and the unusually high volume of water tore up the banks of Winters Run.

A 16-year-old Havre de Grace girl was recovering this week 25 years ago from a fireballing incident in Ocean City.

She and friends were hanging out with some boys they had met, when one of them, a 21-year-old, said he wanted to show them a trick he had learned using grain alcohol and a cigarette lighter.

He poured a puddle of the alcohol on a table around which they were sitting, then lit the vapors with a lighter, creating a foot-high wall of orange flame that burned the alcohol, but not the table.

"He did it two times and then, the third time, he filled a coffee cup half full with [grain] alcohol and then slid it through the flames toward me," the woman said. "The last thing I remember is the alcohol swishing from side to side in the cup and then my face was on fire."

The girl suffered second-degree burns on her face, neck and scalp with some more serious third-degree burns to her nose and cheeks. She was in the hospital for five days.

Funding appeared to be approved for a new Fallston Middle School building. The school would house grades six, seven and eight, but local funding would not be requested until at least 1990.

At the county level, more than $363,000 was allocated in planning money for the school system's and county's top construction priority, but the state agency responsible for providing money for school projects deferred Fallston Middle, saying it couldn't justify building a new school that would only serve 250 students.

Fallston middle school students went to school in the same building as high school students.

As the summer was drawing to an end, Bel Air Athletic Club was offering discounted memberships, at 50 percent off.

"Enjoy tremendous summer savings and discover how much fun getting fit can be. Get slim and trim in the way that's right for you. Relax around our beautiful pool with old friends and new," read an ad for the club.

O'Toole's Roadhouse was planning to open a new restaurant in Bel Air. The Toronto-based chain had leased 7,000 square feet on the lower level of the new Courtland Square office and retail center on Main Street.

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