The annual celebration of the county's agricultural heritage began this weekend with a carnival as well as horse and livestock competitions at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville.
The 41st county fair, however, does not begin officially until Wednesday night, when last year's fair queen, Jeanne M. Stracke of Glen Burnie, passes her crown to the winner from 10 would-be successors.
As in past years, fair officials expect about 50,000 spectators to visit more than 5,000 exhibits, competitions, demonstrations and concerts, said Marilyn Holmes, a director of the nonprofit association that organizes the event. The midway and carnival rides also are a big draw, she said.
For the first time, the five-day fair has been expanded with five additional "pre-fair" days to devote more time to exhibits, tractor pulls and 4-H competitions, Mrs. Holmes said. The pre-fair days culminate with the final judging of exhibits Tuesday.
"These are the same events we've always had, but this way the 4-H'ers don't have to cram them all into five days," said Mrs. Holmes.
The main events begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday with the Fair Queen Scholarship Contest and a concert by the Crabtowne Big Band. The same day, the Maryland Jousting Association will sponsor a demonstration at 6:30 p.m., and the light weight draft horse pull will begin at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, following a heavy draft horse pull at 7 p.m., about 60 amateur acts will be showcased in a 7:30 p.m. show. Senior citizens -- admitted free this day -- show their talents at a 1 p.m. show
The music begins on Friday after the 5:30 p.m. antique tractor pull. WANN Bay Country radio is sponsoring an "Outdoor Evening at the Fair" at 8 p.m.
Although Saturday begins with 150 children, ages 1 to 8, competing for bragging rights as the county's cutest kid, the day is devoted to "oldies." The Vogues, sponsored by WBIG radio, will play at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Second Conspiracy show band, sponsored by Redmond Towing and Auto Parts, plays at 9 p.m.
The concerts continue next Sunday with Jerry and the Heartbreakers at 1:30 p.m., Coyote at 3 p.m. and Holly Dunn at 5 p.m.
Fair hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. next Sunday. Admission is $4 through Saturday, $6 Sunday (including admission to the Holly Dunn concert).
The fairgrounds are on Generals Highway, Route 178 in Crownsville.