Editorial: Fair offers fun chance to support local 4-H'ers

You can’t really lay claim to being a true Carroll countian unless you attend, or perhaps participate, in one of the longest-running and most-anticipated events of the year — the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair.

The fair officially begins on Saturday, July 28, and runs through Friday, Aug. 3, at the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster (although some judging begins Friday and the annual tractor pull starts at 5 p.m. Friday, July 27, and the car demolition derby is set for Saturday, Aug. 4, all at the Buck Miller Arena). For a guide to the fair, look inside today’s Carroll County Times or visit


The fair is a Carroll tradition, having started back in the ’90s — the 1890s. Some local folks got together on Aug. 14, 1897, for a picnic that quickly grew to a 2,000-person affair two years later and has grown exponentially since. It has been held at the Ag Center since 1954.

“The fair is home to me; it is my favorite place in the entire planet,” Miss 4-H, Payton Steele, told us. “I work all year coming up to this two-week stretch, and honestly I just love it.”

The fair will provide plenty of ways for attendees to have a good time. There is an antique tractor show and pull, a children’s pedal pull, a robotics contest, and vintage grain truck racing — and that’s just on opening day. There is far too much entertainment to list in this space, but highlights the rest of the week include a car show, parade and Elly Cooke concert on Sunday, the Amish Outlaws on Monday, the Salem Bottom Boys on Tuesday, a horse pull on Wednesday, Southern Charm on Thursday, and Bootleg and Poison Whiskey on Friday, as well as multiple offerings of pig racing, mechanical bull rides, pony rides, chainsaw carving and much more.

But, fun though all of that may be, a good time is far from the only reason local residents should come out to the fair.

Those stopping by will learn about our county’s agricultural heritage while supporting young people from Carroll showcasing animals and projects. Fair attendees will see livestock, gardening, crafts, fashion and technology on display, the exhibits being the end product of countless hours of work put in by dedicated youths.

Those interested can further support the mission — and the fair’s website posts a mission statement that includes the goal for 4-H and FFA members to “develop positive self-esteem and valuable life lessons on which to build successful futures” — by bidding and buying Wednesday at the cake auction, which raises tens of thousands for the fair each year, or by participating in the livestock sale on Friday, rewarding the 4-H’ers by allowing them to earn money from the sale of animals they’ve raised.

So we would encourage one and all to stop by, to browse the many different exhibits on display, to check out the animals, to enjoy the activities and concerts. And to learn a little more about 4-H, FFA and agriculture in general from those who live it, like 17-year-old Ryan Schooley who will be working hard during the week helping fair-goers tour the grounds as an “ambassador” for the fair.

“This is something that we work all year for, and it’s something that we’re all passionate about, so we love to share it with the community,” Schooley told us. “It’s like a home, basically, for the entire county.”