Bright lights, deep-fried foods, and the inherent fun of the fair always made it a special treat for me as a child. My mother would carve out an afternoon to take me, and sometimes a friend, to enjoy the rides, games, and sites that surrounded this annual event. I was always amazed and in awe of everything around me, and my excitement was so overwhelming, I could barely figure out which way to go.
It seems almost fitting that years later I am a part of a special group of volunteers who put together the fair. Don’t get me wrong, the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair isn’t just any fair. This is the third largest fair in the state of North Carolina, and we have everything you would expect such as rides, games, and deep-fried food. This fair has won more awards than I can count, and the economic impact it has on our local community is significant.
I had no idea until I was part of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, and had a chance to start partnering with our fair board, all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make the fair happen. Honestly, the day the fair closes, there is a meeting that involves wrapping up this fair and starting to book acts for next year’s fair. They are a diligent group of folks, each with their own area of interests and specialties. Each year, they try to make the fair familiar but different, bigger and better, and that’s not always easy. For example, this year you will see some new entertainment, Close Encounters of the Exotic Kind — Lions and Tigers, while still enjoying our crowd favorites like Alan Sands. After Hurricane Matthew last year, we had to completely gut the livestock building, which gave us a chance to do something new. Our baby chicks and ducks are always a draw to the building, and we will be adding a duck slide and hatching chickens during the fair.
The fair centers around agriculture, because that is what makes our economy roll here in Robeson County. Agriculture is celebrated in the home exhibits, through contests such as the King Arthur Baking Contest; Pumpkin Contest; and let’s not forget, the livestock shows. Of course, you reap the agricultural rewards by enjoying the food — ice cream, collard sandwiches, funnel cakes, and more. What’s a celebration without games and twinkling lights? Thanks to Wade Shows and Big Rock Amusements, we have all sorts of games and twinkling lights on those ginormous, safe, fun rides.
So this fall, come on out to the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair, thank a farmer, and enjoy the food and fun. Come by the livestock building and say hello, or maybe you will see me on the midway, still amazed by the lights and sounds and taking pictures of others who have fallen in love with the fair. The fair opens Thursday with free gate admission for everyone, thanks to Sanderson Farms, and runs until Oct. 7. Smile, it’s fair time!
Shea Ann DeJarnette, Extension 4-H Youth Development agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at Shea_Ann_DeJarnette@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.