By Tim Gardner
It’s almost time for one of Avery County and the High Country’s most anticipated yearly events– the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural (A & H) Fair.
Thanks to the collaboration of the Avery County Government and the community members who volunteer to operate it, this year’s Avery A&H Fair will run from Wednesday, September 7 through Saturday, September 10. It will be the fourth year that it will be hosted on the Heritage Park property since the completion of the county’s agriculture building on the site. Heritage Park is located at 661 Vale Road in Newland, which is approximately one-half mile behind the Ingles Markets Grocery Store.
Various rides, music, exhibits, demonstrations, competitions and even a beauty pageant ensure there’s plenty to enjoy at the fair. And admission at the gate each day (night) of the Avery A&H Fair is free!
Gates at the 2022 Avery A&H Fair will open at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday (September 7); at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday (September 8); and at 4:30 p.m. on Friday (September 9). They will open at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (September 10). Amusement Rides open at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday, rides will start at 12:00 noon, continuing until closing at 11:00 p.m.
From the thrilling rides and various games for kids to the alluring displays in the livestock and farm and home tents, the Avery A&H Fair is for people of all ages and interests. Whether a person is an enthusiast of agriculture, arts and crafts, animal husbandry or traditional ways of living, this event offers the county’s best in all categories, along with a few special events throughout its four days (nights). There also will be various food and drink vendors set up throughout the fairgrounds to satisfy the appetites and thirsts of those attending.
Currently in its 29th year, the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural (A & H) Fair has been a mainstay among the most popular celebrations and festivities in the North Carolina Mountains. It is a family-oriented event known for the preservation of the mountain heritage that has long been a way of life for the people of Avery County. Focused on the education and enjoyment of our children, the Avery A & H Fair also reminds county natives, residents, workers and guests how agriculture and horticulture have played a major part in the county’s communities throughout generations and since the county was founded in 1911.
“I hope everyone who can and wants to will attend this year’s Avery A&H Fair, said its Director B.J. Beuttell. “There will be plenty of fun and excitement for all who do. The Avery A&H Fair is one of the greatest happenings in our county’s rich history The fact that it keeps getting bigger and bigger makes it even more of a milestone happening for the county.”
An annual highlight of the Avery A&H Fair’s activities is a long list of livestock shows and related events. This year’s schedule includes:
Wednesday, September 7
(5:00 p.m.– 10:30 p.m.)
Open Chicken Showmanship Show– 6:00 p.m.
High Country 4-H Chick-to-Chicken Show-6:30 p.m.
High Country 4-H Small Animal Project Show (Rabbits)– 7:00 p.m.
High Country 4-H Small Animal Project Show (Guinea Pigs)– 7:15 p.m.
Open Rabbit Showmanship Show– 7:30 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 8
(5:00 p.m.– 10:30pm)
WNC Dairy Beef Steer Showmanship Show– 6:00 p.m.
Beef Heifer Showmanship Show–6:30p.m.
Dairy Heifer Showmanship Show – 7:00p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 9
(5:00 p.m.– 10:30 p.m.)
Goat Showmanship Show – 6:00 p.m.
Club Lamb Showmanship Show – 6:30p.m.
Hog show – 7:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 10
(9:30 a.m.– 11:00 p.m.)
Goat Tying Competition– 11:00 a.m.
On Ground Team Roping Competition– 2:00 p.m.
Horse Peewee Lead Line Show– 4:00 p.m.
Horse In Hand Obstacle Course –5:00 p.m.
Halter Horse Showmanship Show– 6:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 2:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo (Another Round–) 7:00pm
Many who attend enter their livestock, produce, crafts, quilts, woodworking, cakes, pies and more for the chance to win prizes. Winner ribbons will be presented for the best canned goods, produce, flowers, arts and crafts. Visitors can pick up the farm and home entry forms to enter the contests and to obtain a booth to set up at the Fair at the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center, located at Heritage Park.
Entries will be received at the Extension Service Office on the following dates and times:
Saturday, September 4 from 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 5 from 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.
Monday, September 6 from 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(Flowers and floral arrangements will also be taken on this day)
Wednesday, September 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (Culinary Arts Foods and Baked Goods Only).
“We will have a lot of different exhibits and many people like to come and see what so and so raised, how big they were, how much they weighed and so on,” remarked Beuttell. “The competition is open to anybody. People can bring their stuff out and participate and we judge just about anything. We have canned foods, cut flowers, baked goods, vegetables and fruits in various categories, woodworking, paintings, crocheting, knitting and sewing and almost anything else you can name.
“The Fair is a wonderful opportunity for us to show off our agricultural and horticultural community and give those who attend the opportunity to see what’s being grown and handled in this county.”
Musical entertainment will also be provided at the Avery A&H Fair. That line-up includes:
Wednesday, September 7-
J.A.M.S. Junior Appalachian Musicians– 5:30 p.m.
Linville Land Harbor Community Band– 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 8-
Best In Show Talent Show– 5:30 p.m. (Entry fee $20.00. Age Groups 5-8; 9-13; 13-15; 16-19; and 20-plus. Each age division has a first, second and third place awards winners and one over-all winner from all age divisions).
Boone & Church– 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 9-
Blue Ridge Performing Arts Academy Dancers– 5:00 p.m.
Avery County Cloggers– 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 10-
Lewis Chapel Children’s Choi–r 2:00 p.m.
Distant Gold– 4:00 p.m.
Preston Benfield– 7:00 p.m.
Those attending the Avery A&H Fair can also take the stage to provide “open mic” entertainment on Friday night of festivities.
Another highly-popular event at the Avery A&H Fair is its beauty pageant–The Fairest of The Fair. It will be held on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m. on the park’s Outdoor Entertainment Stage.
Entry fee is $40.00 and contestants can register at the Avery County Extension Office.
The divisions with seven Queens and one King being crowned include:
Wee Miss Avery A&H Fair Age-Birth-2
Tiny Miss Avery A&H Fair-Age 3-5
Little Miss Avery A&H Fair-Age-6-10
Junior Miss Avery A&H Fair-Age-11-15
Miss Avery A&H Fair-Age 16-21
Mister Avery A&H Fair-Age-Birth-12
Miss Confidence-Any age with disabilities
Miss Avery A&H Fair-Chosen from Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss
For further information about musical entertainment, the talent shows and beauty pageant, call Chrissy Kasper at (828) 387-6488.
On Saturday, September 10 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., a special guest will be featured at the Fair—J.B. Rader from The Discovery Channel’s Hit Television Show “Moonshiners” that was filmed in the Appalachian Mountains. On the show Rader is “Popcorn” Sutton’s right-hand man. Rader will be available to greet those attending the Fair and sign autographs.
Additionally, the Avery A&H Fair will host its second annual car show on Saturday, September 10 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Those entering need to make a cash donation or bring a toy that will be given to the “Toys for Tots” charity. For more details about the car show, call Claude Buchanan at (828) 733-3558.
The Avery County H&A Fair has been operating with the help of the local N.C. Cooperative Extension throughout its existence. Its proceeds provide funding for the Lindsay Beuttell and Avery A&H Fair Scholarships given to local students as well as to cover the operating costs for the annual event.
“The Avery A&H Fair is a bonafide North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) Fair and it’s put on by a group of volunteers who come together and then work collectively for a common and wonderful, goodwill cause,” remarked Jerry Moody, the Fair’s Manager and Avery County’s Extension Service Director. “The extension office helps as our staff, the Avery A&H Fair Board members and many others provide the necessary support and other forms of resources to help pull it off each year. It’s primarily held so we can raise money to offer scholarships to deserving students, which we’ve been doing so since the Fair first opened in 1993. It’s also an opportunity for us to show off Avery County’s rich cultural and agricultural history, in which our county takes great pride.”
Beuttell noted that if you’re looking for a way to get involved in the community, volunteering at the Fair is a great way to start. “It takes a lot of meticulous preparation and a lot of Hard work to pull this thing off,” she said. “And we can always use volunteers, because there’s always more work to be done than we have time or people for. So anyone who wants to come out and help is most welcome and encouraged to do so.”
Beuttell estimated that “upwards to as many as 7,000 or 8,000 people will attend the Fair over its four-day course.” She also noted that the Fair draws people from various surrounding counties and several states besides North Carolina.
Besides Beuttell and Jerry Moody, the Avery A & H Fair Board of Directors consists of the following members with the specific function each oversees listed in parenthesis: Lisa Moody (Treasurer); Katie Ingram (Vendors); Michelle South (Livestock); Rylie Daniels (Livestock): Chrissy Kasper (Entertainment); Kara Taylor (Social Media); Deb Smith (Artwork); Aneda Johnson (Heritage); and Tim Buchanan (General Member).For more general information about the Avery H&A Fair, call the Avery County Fair at (828) 387-6870; the Avery Cooperative Extension office at (828) 733-8270; or log onto its Internet Social Media Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AveryAHFair.