I have always wanted to go to the Mountain State Fair, because I have heard that it was a very good fair. I have heard many comments that this fair was quite a bit different than fairs in this part of the state.
I have been told that the entertainment is different to focus on bluegrass and mountain music; livestock shows include animals that are not usually seen in this area, such as dairy cows, alpacas and llamas; horticultural exhibits are different because of the drastically different growing seasons for vegetables and flowers; and that mountain crafts are a major part of their exhibits.
Although I did enjoy the Mountain State Fair, I must admit that it was not much different than our fair here in Robeson County. Although I know I am somewhat biased, overall, I did not think the Mountain State Fair was as good as the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair.
Being a state-supported fair in the far western part of the state, it was easy to understand why the attendance would be three to four times greater than at our fair. But their fairgrounds are much larger than ours.
There are many more people living in the Asheville area than in the Lumberton area. Their facilities are more modern and much more elaborate, but they have state funds to support construction and grounds improvements, while our fair has only your $5 admission fee.
The common thread I found was that no matter where you go, those people involved in county fairs are proud of what they have, and they want everyone visiting their fair to have a good time.
I found the fair staff and the many volunteers I talked with to be very eager to answer my many questions and to explain how they planned and carried out their many events and activities.
As you would expect, those at the fair to show their animals, to staff their exhibits, and to work at their civic club, church, or 4-H booths almost beamed with pride as they described how they worked with the fair staff to use the Mountain State Fair to network with thousands of people in the Asheville area.
Your county agricultural fair will start next Oct. 1 at the Robeson County Fairgrounds and will run for 10 big days until Oct. 10.
After very rigid judging last year, the North Carolina Association of County Fairs gave the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair the Image Award as the best county agricultural fair in the entire state.
Those fairs that receive state financial support for staff and facilities, such as the Mountain State Fair, the N.C. State Fair, and the Dixie Classic Fair, are not allowed to compete, since they have a distinct advantage over all the other county agricultural fairs in the state that operate as nonprofits.
So you should be very proud of your county fair and of the many volunteers who make it available for your enjoyment. The Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair may not be as large as the Mountain State Fair, but there is a lot more to do and to see at this fair. There is more entertainment available, and it is all free. Even though it is smaller, there is a much greater variety of food at this fair, and believe it or not, the food is much less expensive.
There may not be any alpacas or llamas at your fair, but there are more livestock shows with more youth showing their animals. The exhibit halls are not as elaborate and stylish, but there are more fruit, vegetable and other home exhibits on display at your fair than at the Mountain State Fair.
I know from the many comments I hear that there are quite a few people in the county who still view the county fair as a rowdy, unclean and unsafe place like they remember from years ago. Because of this they have not gone to the county fair since they became adults.
As can be evidenced by receiving the Image Award, the board of directors of your county fair have done a lot to change the image from years ago.
I will not try to persuade you that a couple of teenagers will not get into an argument over a girlfriend while at the county fair, but if this does happen, it will most likely take place late Friday and/or Saturday nights, not at a time you and your family would be visiting the fair.
The Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair is truly affordable family entertainment. If you usually attend your fair, buy advance tickets in order to save money and come on out for a wonderful time.
If you have not attended the fair in recent years, I invite you and your family to come see what your fair has to offer.
If you are bringing your children, come during one of the weekdays or weekend afternoons. Buy advance tickets to save money, or if you have school children, come on Tuesday or Wednesday night when they get in free with school tickets.
You are just a few miles away from an award-winning county agricultural fair. Come enjoy it.
— Everett Davis is the director of the Robeson County Cooperative Extension Service.