By Tim Gardner
For 27 years, the Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair has been a mainstay among the North Carolina High Country’s most popular celebrations and festivities. It is a family-oriented event known for the preservation of the mountain heritage that has long been a way of life for people Avery County and throughout the entire High Country. Focused on the education and enjoyment of our children, the fair also reminds us all of how agriculture and horticulture have played a major part in our communities throughout generations.
Thanks to the cooperation of Avery County and the community members who volunteer to operate it, this year’s fair runs from Wednesday, September 4 through Saturday, September 7. It will be the second consecutive 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.
Various rides, exhibits, demonstrations and competitions ensure there’s plenty to see and do at the fair.
“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. There’s truly various happenings at the Fair that everyone who comes will enjoy.”
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.
Entries will be received at the Extension Service Office on the following dates and times:
Saturday, August 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 1 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Monday, September 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 3 from 10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m.
(Flowers and floral arrangements will also be taken on this day)
Wednesday, September 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (Baked Goods Only)
Gates at the Avery A&H Fair will open by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday (September 4); 3:00 p.m. on Thursday (September 5); 5:00 p.m. on Friday (September 6); and 11:00 a.m. on Saturday (September 7). Amusement Rides open at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday, rides will start at 1:00 p.m. and continuing until closing at 11:00 p.m.
A “Carload Special Night” will be held on Thursday, September 5. Up to 8 people in a car receive a wrist band included (Example: 5 people in car wrist bracelet is $10.00)
Admission at the gate is free all days of the Avery A&H Fair. 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.
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 2019 fair’s activities is a long list of livestock shows: a goat show, a chicken show, a rabbit show, diary and meat goat shows, dairy steer project show and beef and dairy heifer shows. 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, how much they weighed and so on,” commented 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.”
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.”
Folks attending the Avery A& H Fair can also take the stage to provide “open mic” entertainment throughout the five days of festivities.
This year schedule of events includes:
Wednesday, September 4 (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)
Livestock Tent -Chicken Show, 5:00 p.m.; Rabbit Show, 5:30 p.m.; 4H Chick to Chicken Show, 6:00 p.m.; 4H High Country Show Rabbit Program, 6:30 p.m., Cow Patty Bingo, 7:00 p.m.; Entertainment- Avery County Cloggers, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 5 (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.)
Livestock Tent-5:00 Dairy Goat Show, 5:00 p.m.; Meat Goat Show, 5:30 p.m.; High Country Show Goat Program, 6:00 p.m.; Cow Patty Bingo, 7:00 p.m.Entertainment-Avery County Cloggers and Fully Persuaded Band will perform at 7:00 p.m. or shortly after Friday, September 6 (5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.)
Livestock Tent- Horse Halter Show, 6:00 p.m.; Cow Patty Bingo, 7:00 p.m.; Entertainment -Avery County Cloggers and Band Wagon Fallacy Band 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Saturday, September 7 (11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.)
Beauty Pageant ,12:00 Noon; Countrified Obstacle Course for adults at 4:00 p.m., with a $300 prize for both men’s and women’s divisions; Little Britches Obstacle Course for ages 15 and under at 5:00 p.m.; Entertainment-Avery County Cloggers and Dave Calvert and his Collective Band and other singers and bands singing and playing music throughout the day and evening; Livestock Tent-Dairy Heifer Show, 5:00 p.m.; Dairy Steer Show, 5:30 p.m.; Beef Heifer Show, 6:00 p.m.; Beef Steer Show, 6:30 p.m.; and Cow Patty Bingo 50/50, 7:00 p.m.
A raffle also will be held with a 2019 Coleman Lantern LT Camper worth $26,000 awarded to the grand winner. 350 tickets will be available at $100 each. The raffle drawing will take place around 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 Avery A&H Fair.
The Avery County H&A Fair has been running with the help of the local N.C. Cooperative Extension throughout its existence.
Its proceeds go to 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 work together for a common and great cause,” commented 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 mainly put on so we can raise money to offer scholarships to deserving students, which we’ve been doing so since the Fair first opened in 1993. And it’s an opportunity for us to show off Avery County’s rich cultural and agricultural history.”
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 preparation and a lot of 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 that wants to come out and help is most welcome and encouraged to do so.”
Beuttell estimated that “upwards to as many as 7,000 people will attend the Fair over its four-day course.” She also noted that the fair draws people from various surrounding counties and some 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. Details about the beauty pageant, how to enter, the various age categories, competitions, etc. can be obtained by contacting Diane McKinney by phone (423-707-4153) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Avery A&H Fair officials will also be posting daily updates starting Wednesday, September 4 on the Fair’s Facebook page (facebook.com/AveryAHFair).
Come on out and bring your family to the 2019 Avery A&H Fair.
Pictures from last year’s fair: