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Avery County Fair Now Through Saturday

By Tim Gardner

For more than a quarter of a century, the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair has been a mainstay among the North Carolina High Country’s most popular festivities.

This year’s fair runs from Tuesday, August 28 through Saturday, September 1. It will be the first that 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.

Various rides, exhibits, demonstrations and competitions ensure there’s plenty to see and do at the fair.

Gates will open by 5:00 p.m. and rides at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. On Saturday, gates will open at 9:00 a.m. and rides will start at 1:00 p.m. and continuing until closing at 11:00 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person per night (Tuesday through Friday) and on Saturday (free for children ages 5 and under). Ride bracelets are: $10 for all ages on Tuesday; $20 for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and $15 on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and $20 from 6:00 p.m. to closing.

From the thrilling rides and various games for kids to the alluring displays in the livestock and farm and home tents, the fair is fun 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, the fair offers the county’s best in all categories, along with a few special events throughout the event’s five days. And there will be various food and drink vendors set up throughout the fairgrounds to satisfy the appetites and thirsts of those attending.

Included in the 2018 fair’s activities is a long list of livestock shows: a goat show, a chicken show, a dairy steer project show and a beef heifer show. And many who attend enter their livestock, produce, crafts, quilts, woodworking, cakes, pies and more for the chance to win prizes.

“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 and so forth,” commented Avery H&E Board member Darlene Carpenter.The competition is open to anybody. They 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 about anything else you can name.

“And of course, the fair is a wonderful opportunity for us to show off our agricultural community and give those who attend the opportunity to see what’s being grown and handled in this county.”

Folks can also take the stage to provide “open mic” entertainment throughout the five days of festivities.

This year schedule of events includes:

Tuesday, August 28 (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)

Goat Show at 6:00 p.m. and Cow Patty Bingo at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 29 (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)

Horse Halter Show for kids 9 and under at 6:00 p.m. and Cow Patty Bingo at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 30 (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)

Chicken Show by 4H Club at 6:00 p.m. and Cow Patty Bingo at 7:00 p.m. The Fully Persuaded Band will play during the evening.

Friday, August 31(5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.)

Dairy Steer Project Show at 6:00 p.m., featuring kids who have raised calves from 3 days old; Cow Patty Bingo at 7:00 p.m.; Singers and Bands singing and playing music throughout evening

Saturday, September 1(9:30 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Countrified Obstacle Course for adults at 1:00 p.m., with a $300 prize for both men’s and women’s divisions; Little Britches Obstacle Course for ages 15 and under at 2:00 p.m.; Beef Heifer Show at 6:00 p.m.; Cow Patty Bingo at 7:00 p.m.; and Dave Calvert and his Band and other singers and bands singing and playing music throughout the day and evening

Also, this year, on Saturday, the fair will host its inaugural Chili Cook-off, held in memory of James “Hardrock” Stamey, a long-time Avery Emergency Services worker and Avery H&A Fair patron. There is a $10 entry fee for this competition, and the cooks will be competing for prizes. 1st place receives gets $100, 2nd place gets $75 and 3rd place receives $50. Those entering the contest should bring their best chili recipe and their own crock pot and be ready to cook.

Carpenter noted that the funds from the Cook-off will be divided between scholarships given in Stamey’s name and by the Fair.

A raffle also will be held with several prizes awarded to the grand winner. 250 tickets will be available at $50 each. The raffle drawing will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. The winner will be determined in a reverse drawing in which the last ticket drawn is the winner. Raffle ticket purchasers do not have to be present to win. Raffle tickets are available for purchase now (through the Avery Agriculture Extension Office or the Storehouse in Newland) until the last day of the fair on Saturday. The winner will receive a 5.5 foot by 10-foot tag-along trailer, a Stihl chainsaw with a two-year warranty, a backpack blower with a two-year warranty, a Coleman cooler, a flattop grill, a pop-up tent and a homemade corn-hole game.

The Avery County H&A Fair has been running with the help of the local N.C. Cooperative Extension for the past 26 years.

The fair’s proceeds go to provide funding for scholarships for 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 work together for a common and great cause,” commented Jerry Moody, Avery County’s extension director. “The extension office helps as our staff provides support and other forms of resources to help them pull it off. It’s really an exciting and fun happening.

“We mainly put on the fair so we can raise money to offer scholarships to kids and we’ve been doing so since the fair first opened in 1993. And it’s an opportunity for us to do a couple of things and show off Avery County’s rich cultural and agricultural history. I think it’s one of the best annual happenings in our county and area.”

Moody added 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 preparation and a lot of work to pull this thing off, he 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 that wants to come out and help… that’s great.”

Carpenter estimated that “upwards to as many as 6,000 people will attend the fair over its five-day course.” She also noted that the fair draws people from various surrounding counties and some nearby states.

For more information about the fair, call the Avery Cooperative Extension office at (828) 733-8270.

Avery A&H Fair officials will also be posting daily updates starting Tuesday, August 28 on the fair’s Facebook page (facebook.com/AveryAHFair).


Pictures from previous Avery County Fairs

Photo by Jamie Goodman
Photo by Jamie Goodman
Photo by Jamie Goodman