By Tim Gardner
In its 28th year, the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural 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.
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!
Thanks to the cooperation of Avery County and the community members who volunteer to operate it, this year’s Avery A&H Fair runs from Wednesday, September 8 through Saturday, September11. It will be the third year that it will be hosted out of the Heritage Park property since the completion of the county’s new 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.
Gates at the 2021 Avery A&H Fair will open by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday (September 8); Thursday (September 9); and Friday (September 10). They will open at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday (September 11). 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.
Ride bracelets are: $20 for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and $15 on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and $20 from 6:00 p.m. to closing at 11:00 p.m.
A “Carload Special Night” will be held on Thursday, September 9. Up to 6 people in a car receive a wrist band included (Example: 5 people in car wrist bracelet is $20.00.) Information about obtaining a discount coupon can be obtained from the Avery County Extension Service by calling (828) 733-8270.
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.
“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. In fact, it will be a real treat for all who attend.”
Beuttell added: “The Avery A&H Fair is one of the greatest happenings in our county’s rich and storied history. It’s consistency and the fact that it keeps getting bigger and bigger makes it even more of a milestone happening for the county.”
A yearly highlight of the Avery A&H Fair’s activities is a long list of livestock shows: a goat show, a chicken show, a rabbit show, dairy and meat goat shows, dairy steer project show and beef and dairy heifer shows.
This year schedule of livestock events includes:
Wednesday, September 8
(5:00p.m. – 10:30 p.m.)
Open Chicken Showmanship Show – 5:00 p.m.
High Country 4-H Chick-to-Chicken Show-6:00 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 9
(5:00 p.m.– 10:30p.m.)
FFA Competition starting- 5:00 p.m.
Horse Peewee Lead Line Show– 5:00 p.m.
Halter Horse Showmanship Show – 6:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 10th
(5:00PM – 10:30PM)
Goat Showmanship Show – 5:00 p.m.
Club Lamb Showmanship Show – 6:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 11th
(9:30AM – 11:00PM)
Dairy Heifer Showmanship Show – 1:00 p.m.
Dairy Cow Showmanship Show– 2:00 p.m.
Beef Heifer Showmanship Show – 3:00 p.m.
Beef Cow Showmanship Show – 4:00 p.m.
Beef Steer Showmanship Show – 5:00 p.m.
Livestock Patty Bingo– 7:00 p.m.
And 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 8-
J.A.M.S. Junior Appalachian Musicians-6:00 p.m.
Relentless Flood-8:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 9-
Boone&Church 5:30 p.m.
Friday, September 10-
Preston Benfield-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 11-
Avery County Cloggers-4:00 p.m.
Distant Gold-7:30 p.m.
Those attending the Avery A&H Fair can also take the stage to provide “open mic” entertainment throughout the four days of festivities.
Another popular event at the Avery A&H Fair is its beauty pageant–The Fairest of The Fair. It will be held on Saturday, September 12 from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. on the park’s Outdoor Entertainment Stage.
Contestants can register from 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. there. The entry fee is $25.00. Contact the Avery A&H Fair or pageant director Diane McKinney for more details. She can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (423) 707-4153.
Divisions are with six Queens and one King being crowned:
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-Adult
Classic Miss Avery A&H Fair-Age-65-Plus
Mister Avery A&H Fair-Age-Birth-12
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 together for a common and wonderful, goodwill cause,” remarked Jerry Moody, 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. 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 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 nearby states.
For more general information about the Avery H&A Fair, call the Avery County Fair at (828) 387-6870 or the Avery Cooperative Extension office at (828) 733-8270.
Avery A&H Fair officials will also be posting daily updates starting Wednesday, September 8 on the Fair’s Facebook page (facebook.com/AveryAHFair).
Scenes from the 2019 Avery County Fair