LUMBERTON — A bout of rainy weather once again put a wet rag on activities at the 66th annual Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair on Tuesday, continuing a trend that has forced the cancellation of two events and the rescheduling of another.
Heavy rain and the warning of a tornado on Monday forced the rescheduling of Tuesday’s Special Needs Childrens’ Day to Thursday. Cheerleading contests set for Monday and Tuesday had been postponed, but were canceled on Tuesday.
“It was a safety issue,” said Allen Faircloth, president of the fair. “The mats were so wet and couldn’t dry out. The grounds were wet, but then the mats got wet and there was no way to dry them out in time.”
Visitors to the fairgrounds scattered for shelter at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday as a heavy rain fell for about half an hour. While fields were left muddy and puddles remained scattered throughout the fairgrounds, rides and games were up and running and shows and special events were soon back on schedule.
According to the National Weather Service, Lumberton could see a quick thunderstorm today and there is a 30 percent chance of rain through Thursday.
“This rain is killing us,” Faircloth said. “We’re about 18,000 down from where we were this time last year but we anticipate that a lot of people are out there waiting for the rain to go away.”
Although turnout has been scarce, rain on Tuesday couldn’t dampen the spirits of die-hard fair enthusiasts. Jeff Britt and his 7-year-old daughter were busy spending their annual fair allowance.
“Keelee loves the rides and I love the food,” Britt said. “She gets $40 for the rides and I use my $40 for food, especially the sausage sandwiches.”
Erica Owen, of Pembroke, and her daughters Tyra, 12, and Devon, 10, weren’t missing any of the activities, and had already made plans to revisit the fair.
“I bring the kids here every year,” she said. “They love the rides … we’ll be back Saturday. We love the derby, especially if there is a lot of mud.”
Faircloth said fair organizers are trying to remain optimistic that the fair’s attendance will pick up once the rain stops.
“We are really, really, really struggling right now, but we hope it’s clear sailing from here on out,” Faircloth said. “We want everyone to be able to come out and be able to enjoy the fair.”