By Katie Benfield
Do you like learning about culture throughout the High Country? What about animals, food or locally grown produce?
With whirligig rides, delicious local foods and animals of all shapes, sizes and species, this upcoming event is just for you!
The Annual Avery Agricultural and Horticultural Fair is returning to Newland during the week of September 5-9 to bring education, community involvement, cultural preservation and fun to the community!
“This is our 24th year, and we’ve been going on since ’93,” Jerry Moody, Director at Avery County Cooperative Extension Service, said.
On Tuesday through Friday, the Fair opens at 5 p.m. and closes around 10 p.m. On these days, the rides will open at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the fair opens around 10 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. that same evening. During the festivities on Saturday, rides will be open between 12-5 p.m. and between 6 p.m. and closing.
On Tuesday, there will be an FFA competition at 6 p.m., featuring local FFA clubs from schools in the surrounding counties. Shortly after this, at 7 p.m., a beauty pageant will be taking place for all to see.
On Wednesday and Thursday, there will be educational days for local schools and children. The kids’ days will also involve rides and a discount if they show up with their class or their school.
“Some of the educational lessons revolve around how to make a banjo, Monarch butterflies and other butterflies, a review of the livestock in the livestock pen, blacksmithing and how blacksmith and welding is a possible career and water safety,” Moody said, “which goes along with the flooding out in Houston.”
On Saturday, at 2 p.m., the renowned horse-pull will be taking place. So far, there are 12 horse teams entered into the competition, but Moody hopes that there will at least be 15 teams competing.
“It’s like a tractor pull, but with horses,” Moody said. “So, there will be a lot of draft horses and Clydesdales present.”
While these are all day-specific events, the Fair also has festivities that happen every day of the week, such as a kid’s corner where kids can go in, pretend to cut down their own Christmas trees and learn all about Christmas trees. Along with this, each day, little kids will have the chance to chase little pigs and little chickens – if you catch one, you win a prize!
However, kids aren’t the only ones who have festivities they can join in and enjoy at the Fair.
There will be exhibits of canned goods, locally grown fruits and vegetables, flowers, wreaths, Christmas trees, ornamentals, baked goods and so much more for everyone in attendance.
“This is just our way of providing a way for people to show off what they grow, the different livestock we have in the county,” Moody said, “and a way to keep the culture alive and teach the kids about the culture, where the food comes from, what different animals look like and see them face-to-face.”
While all of that is going on, there will also be a raffle – tickets cost $50 – for a variety of different items including, but not limited to, the following: a trailer, a Yeti cooler, locally made cornhole boards, four folding chairs and a pop up tent, a fire pit, a camping grill and so much more that people of all ages and all walks of life will enjoy. The raffle drawing will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.
With all of this cultural preservation comes historical preservation as well, and the A&H Fair doesn’t ignore that aspect of our community.
Present at the fair will be a pioneer kitchen and bedroom set up with furniture and utensils that they would’ve used back in the olden days, as well as historical machinery for people to look at and learn about.
“The fair is our way of keeping our culture and history alive,” Moody said, “while also having a good time doing it.”
This year, the Fair decided to do something different to keep up with a trend that is suddenly finding an upsurge throughout the High Country – painted rocks.
“Somebody brought up this idea that everyone is painting rocks and leaving them around, so why don’t we make it so that we paint some rocks,” Mood said, “and we did about 20 rocks, and they are all in public locations. If they bring all the small rocks in, they will get one pass for the individual that day.”
However, while there are a bunch of small rocks throughout the public area, there is one huge one. There is a 150 lb rock that is painted green and has an orange paw and an orange border on it.
“If someone brings in that 150 lb rock, they get free admission for four people for life,” Moody said, “but they have to carry it all the way to the Fair. I just thought that’d be kind of funny for someone to pick it up and bring it in, it’s so big.”
As long as you show up with one of the painted rocks – painted by the kids in the 4H program – then you will have free admittance for the day. Remember that each of these rocks has the initials of the Fair, as well as a number specific to the rock painted on the back, so the volunteers at the Fair will know whether the rock is real or not.
“I’m not sure if anyone will find the rocks. We tried to hide them where people could find them,” Moody said, “but it’s something different, it’s something interesting.”
Also, throughout the whole week, the Fair will be collecting non-perishable goods and bottled water in cooperation with the student government and other school organizations at Avery High School to send out to Houston for those affected by the flooding.
“We are providing a central location for people to bring stuff in and drop it off for people in Houston,” Moody said, “and then, at the end of the week, it’ll all be collected and shipped out to Texas.”
So, whether you’re in it for the games, the rides, the festivities, the food, the history and culture, the painted rocks or helping out victims in Houston, the Avery A&H Fair has something for everyone!
“We really hope everyone comes out and enjoys it,” Moody said.
Tickets for the event are as follows:
- Gate Fee – $5 (ages 5 and under are free)
- Ride Tickets:
- Tuesday – $15
- Wed-Friday – $20
- Saturday (1-5 p.m.) – $15
- Saturday (6 p.m.-close) – $20
For more information, call the Avery County Cooperative Extension Service at 828-733-8270 or visit the Avery A&H Fair Facebook page.