From stunt shows to cow-milking lessons, concerts to horse racing; the 122nd Maryland State Fair has something for everyone.
The fair officially opens tomorrow. But the carnival midway will be up and running tonight with games, food and rides. For $8, fairgoers can ride as often as they want from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday the fair kicks off with 4-H cattle, dog, horse and poultry shows. The NASA/FIRST robotics contestants begin their continuing demonstration of the robots their teams have built.
Friday evening, the Cosamin Hot Air Balloon Glow will bring brightly colored hot-air balloons to the racetrack infield, weather permitting, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fairgoers arriving early can chat with the pilots as they get the balloons ready to take off. The balloon glow will be held again from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
This year's Toyota Concert Series kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday with the Rock and Roll Army featuring '60s greats Mitch Ryder, Mark Lindsey (of Paul Revere and the Raiders), Spencer Davis and Rare Earth. All concerts are free with fair admission. The infield opens one hour before the bands take the stage. Seating is general admission only.
Daily events include the Xtreme Air Stunt Show, the state Department of Natural Resources "Scales and Tails" wildlife show and a variety of home and garden demonstrations in the exhibition buildings.
University of Maryland students and professors will be available to take fairgoers on guided tours of the Cow Palace and other livestock pavilions. The fair's popular Birthing Center - home away from home for pregnant cows and sows - is open daily. So is the Animal World petting zoo.
Cow-milking lessons by members of Maryland Guernsey Youth Association will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday as well as Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. Lessons take place in the Cow Palace. Proceeds benefit Guernsey youth programs.
Each day of the fair, the McCormick Maryland Foods Pavilion offers homegrown delicacies, including sweet corn, soft-shell crabs and pit-beef sandwiches - along with free samples of various Maryland-grown products. And don't forget the Dairy Bar, staffed by farmer members of the Maryland Farm Bureau for the duration of the fair.
Thoroughbred horse racing begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with nine races daily. Racing is live except Monday and Labor Day, when the Maryland track is dark and races are simulcast from other tracks around the country. Racetrack admission is free with fair admission.
Saturday's fair schedule includes the 4-H cattle, lamb and hog shows as well as the popular animal costume contest featuring 4-H'ers and their dressed-up livestock at 7:30 p.m. The 4th Annual Fire on the Midway Chili Cookoff will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. Fairgoers can purchase chili samples for 25 cents each. The contest will benefit the family of Annie Cumpston, a Harford County 6-year-old killed as her family was leaving the circus in Baltimore earlier this year.
On "Governor's Day" Sunday, volunteers from around the state will be admitted free to honor their work in the community. The schedule includes more 4-H events and horse racing. Monday, contemporary Christian band Jars of Clay will perform at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday will be a talk-radio special with live broadcasts by G. Gordon Liddy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oliver North from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tom Marr from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fairgoers are advised to get their grandstand tickets early if they want to guarantee a spot in the on-site audience.
At press time, tickets were still available for country singer Brad Paisley's Aug. 29 performance.
Admission: $5, children under 12 free. (Rides extra.)
When: Tomorrow through Sept. 1
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; midway opens noon weekdays and 10 a.m. weekends
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds, York and Timonium roads, Timonium
Parking: Free parking at Park and Ride lot on Deereco Road, limited parking for fee on fairgrounds
Public transportation: Light Rail stop at the Cow Palace gate
Info: 410-252-0200, Ext. 227 or www.marylandstate fair.com
An article in yesterday's Live section misstated the times and dates for thoroughbred racing at the Maryland State Fair. Nine live races will be run each day of the fair, except for Saturdays and Labor Day, when 10 races will be run, and Aug. 25 and Aug. 26, when there will be no races. Timonium will simulcast races every day from other tracks. The Sun regrets the errors.