Everything was right in place - except for the misty weather - as the Anne Arundel County Fair in Crownsville opened to the public for the 53rd time yesterday, with organizers set to go on through Sunday, rain or shine.
The volunteer firefighters of Herald Harbor had prepared gift baskets for raffles; the sheep were bleating in the barn down the hill; a 300-pound pumpkin was parked as a symbol of nature's bounty; and a 5-year-old boy, Tristan Michael Blevins of Crownsville, tugged at his mother, dancing with impatience to see the animals and get on the rides.
A quilting demonstrator, Mildred Pelkey of Glen Burnie, was among the first in the funnel-cake line. "I always have to have one of these at the fair," she said.
Organizers estimated that 25,000 to 32,000 people will attend the five-day event this year.
J. Thompson Boehm, a volunteer and past president of the fair, said the county fair was once an opportunity for farmers to put on suits and for women to dress up.
While it keeps a heavy emphasis on agriculture, the fair has expanded to become a family entertainment park and a place for people who don't work with their hands to learn a little about the land - and such rustic arts as beekeeping and candle-making.
On the one hand, there's still the 4-H goat show and livestock auction. On the other hand, there's also a karaoke singalong, a watermelon-eating contest and a photography "best of show" contest.
Today senior citizens are admitted free from noon to 3 p.m., organizers said. A senior citizens talent show will be held at 1 p.m.
The fair will open to the public at 4 p.m. today and tomorrow, and at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The grounds close at 11 o'clock every night but Sunday, when the fair will close at 8 p.m. General admission is $5 for age 16 and older, and $2 for ages 6 to 16. Children age 5 and younger are admitted free.
The county fair is at 1450 Generals Highway. Information: 410-923-3400.