LUMBERTON — At midnight Saturday the lights on the rides were turned off, vendors started packing up, and fair volunteers started thinking about cleaning up the grounds.
The 2018 Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair is over in record time.
“You have to remember we took a 10-day fair and packed as much of it as we could into eight days,” said Allen Faircloth, Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair president. “It was a risk after the devastation of the hurricane to try to put the fair together and still have it. Ultimately our goal was for the community to have something positive to focus on, and I believe we met that goal.”
The fair was able to offer a lot of the staples of an agricultural fair: home exhibits, livestock shows, 4-H and FFA booths, crop exhibits and more. Of course, there were such favorites as fair foods, carnival rides, and entertainment. Because of Hurricane Florence and related recovery efforts, some of the popular activities, such as the cheerleading contest, special needs day, and the truck and tractor driving competitions, had to be cancelled this year.
“We partner with the public schools on many projects and with schools closed, due to the hurricane, it just couldn’t be coordinated this year,” Faircloth said. “Now next year we plan to be moving forward with all those events and make them better than ever.”
Recovery efforts affected other aspects of the fair, including vendors who were scheduled and had to cancel because of hurricane damage.
With the cancellation of events, a shortened calendar, and recovery efforts many folks were speculating on how well the fair would do this year.
“We are still counting tickets and adding up numbers but attendance seems to be close to where we were at the end of a 10-day fair last year,” Faircloth said. “We do expect the total numbers to be down slightly when we get done counting, however, we had record numbers for the student school nights and canned food night. More than 8,000 pounds of food was collected for food pantries here in Robeson County.”
Canned food night was a special day when people who brought in five in-date, nonperishable items could get in the fair for free. Faircloth said the most food they have ever collected was collected this year in the five-year history of canned food night.
“When you look at an impact like that, well it just lets us know how important community is to all of us,” Faircloth said.
The fair was open Sunday afternoon for animal, home exhibit, and booth pickup. Booth and exhibits also can be picked up on Monday between 9 a.m. and noon. The fair dates for 2019 will be announced soon.
Shea Ann DeJarnette is the 4-H Youth Development agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at [email protected], or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.