On Saturday, the sky above the Howard County fairgrounds will be alive with color, the smell of fried Oreos will fill the air, and the sound of cows mooing, sheep bleating and horses stomping will be commonplace.
It’s time for the Howard County Fair.
For 74 years, the fair has offered its traditional mix of food, entertainment and exhibits by both 4-H youth and adults in everything from art to floral displays and baked goods. This is year is no exception, organizers say, and hopes are high for another great fair.
“People come and enjoy the experience,” said Kimberlie Sullivan, a member of the Howard County Fair board of directors. “They come for the exhibits, for their annual visit to the fair and for the foods.”
A big part of the fair is the exhibits entered by local 4-H club members. Throughout the week, youth ages 8 to 18 compete in livestock shows, enter projects or bake for the cake auction.
“The 4-H program offers so many things for our youth,” Sullivan said. “There are all different types of things for them to do.”
Sullivan, herself, is a former 4-Her.
“I did the full gamut [of projects]," Sullivan said. “My mom was the first farm queen in 1946. I followed in 1974.”
Mickey Day, Howard County Fair board president, was also involved with 4-H as “long as I was able to be.
“The biggest change ... is we are seeing a lot more of the indoor exhibits in the 4-H arena including photography, crafts and woodworking,” Day said. “We have quite a number of exhibitors entered this year.”
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Future Farmers of America, a career and technical youth organization, has a chapter in Howard County and will be participating in the livestock events.
“We are thrilled this program has taken hold,” Sullivan said. “We hope to develop a stronger relationship.”
While there are no restrictions on swine this year due to swine flu, the fair will allow all swine not going to auction to be taken home once they are judged, Day said.
“There are no state requirements this year, but it will make it easier on the animals,” Day said. “When you cram a bunch of people in place, it gets hot. Pigs get hot.”
Weather does play a role in the fair’s attendance. Too hot or too wet is not ideal, Sullivan said. While there is not a turnstile to keep count, attendance typically averages between 80,000 to 100,000 people, Sullivan said.
Admission to the fair varies from $5 to $7, with youth younger than 10 free. All entertainment at the fair is free, including the nightly concerts featuring such bands as The Back Pages Band, Sean Colilins & the Backbeats, Appaloosa and the Colt Wilbur Band, to name a few.
Daily events include chain saw carving, pony rides, amusement park rides and the very popular pig races, which will also include duck racing, too.
Returning fair food favorites include Glenelg High School French fries, Marriotts Ridge’s Fried Oreos and the Glenwood Lions Club food booth offering hand-dipped ice cream or a complete meal.
“People have to have fair food,” Sullivan said. “They need to have that sausage loaded with peppers and onions and that bag of cotton candy.”
Day is thankful for the support of Howard County government given the fair and for all the individuals who help make it possible.
“If I had to choose, the best thing I like to see at the fair are the many volunteers,” Day said. “All those volunteers who put their time and effort into putting on a great event.”