Animals, carnival rides and country music will offer entertainment for the 45,000 visitors expected at this year's Anne Arundel County Fair, which opens today.
With the theme "Show Your Best," the 48th annual fair opens at 4 p.m. and runs through Sunday at 1450 Generals Highway in Crownsville.
Opening ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. today at the flagpole, and this year's Anne Arundel County Fair Queen will be crowned at 7:30 p.m.
The fair will feature pig races, a petting zoo and farmyard frolics, in which people dressed as barnyard animals perform skits. Thousands of exhibits, including arts and crafts, baked goods and photography, will also be open daily.
Fairgoers can play games and board carnival rides every day at Carnival Midway, which will have 50 attractions. Tonight and tomorrow, a $14 admission ticket to the carnival covers unlimited rides. Admission to the fair is $4 today through Friday and $5 on the weekend.
Music ranging from oldies to country will be featured this year. The Marques, an oldies band, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and country singer Joe Diffie will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday. Reserved concert seating is $5, and lawn seating is free.
Anne Arundel County 4-H will account for about 40 percent of the fair, with displays of animals, agriculture, fashion, baked goods, and arts and crafts, said Ruby Schwinn, 4-H program assistant. More than 150 4-H members ages 8 to 18 will demonstrate skills ranging from raising livestock to public speaking.
"We strive to teach them lessons that they'll use throughout their lifetime," Schwinn said.
On Saturday, 4-H members will auction off their animals, an event filled with mixed emotions for them, Schwinn said.
"It's a highlight, but it's also a very sad time for them because they've made a very close bond with these animals," she said.
The fair's hours are scheduled so families can participate, said Marilyn Holmes, fair spokeswoman. It opens at noon tomorrow, at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and at 4 p.m. Friday so that children can go to the fair after school.
Tomorrow, senior citizens and the disabled will be admitted to the fair free from noon to 4 p.m. for the fair's Senior Citizens' and Disabled Day. The senior citizen talent show will be at 1:30 p.m.
Holmes said the fair staff is expecting a total of 45,000 people to attend the fair if there's no rain. And they're hoping for that number, especially after last year, when the fair was closed for its first two scheduled days because of Tropical Storm Floyd.
Holmes said that fair was still successful.
"We still had a good year, because I think people had cabin fever," she said. "A lot of people didn't have electricity, so they were glad to come out to the fair."