The Hamlet Lions Club is gearing up for the upcoming 55th annual Richmond County Agricultural Fair, which will be held Sept. 18 through 22 at the Hamlet Fairgrounds. The countywide carnival will feature rides, food and fun for the entire family.
Rena Shedrick-Marshall, assistant manager for the fair, said the planning committee has been hard at work making it even better than years past.
“It’s taken ten to eleven months of planning,” she said. “Almost the minute we end one, we begin the next one. It’s something that’s occurring year round. We’re always working on it and always looking for better and bigger things.”
Shedrick-Marshall said crowds of more than 11,000 people attended last year’s fair.
“I’m hoping this year, because of the entertainment we have, we can do much better than even that,” she said. “It was good last year, but this year we have really packed our week with entertainment.”
The fair’s Exhibition Building will be filled with arts, crafts, and tasty treats provided by Richmond County residents and 4-H members. Fairgoers can also enjoy the livestock barn.
Exhibits for judging may be entered Sunday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Monday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All exhibits and stocks will be released from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23.
In addition to classic fair standards such as the Ferris wheel, fair manager Bill Bayless said he planned for more rides this year — specifically targeted at an older audience.
“We’re in clean-up mode right now,” Bayless said. “We just finished renovating the main building, so we’re happy about that.”
The fair’s midway will feature several local restaurants including Peking Wok, Fiesta Brava and House of Fish. AMVETS will also be selling food during the fair.
A tentative schedule includes:
Tuesday, Sept. 18 will host Kids Night, featuring the Gaddis Girls, the Ashley Chapel AME Zion Church Junior Choir, the Bryant Family Gospel Group and the Butterflies of the Community. A pet show will be held at 6 p.m., as well as a K9 dog demonstration from the Hamlet Police Department and a Richmond County 4-H livestock demonstration at 6:30 p.m., which will be open to everyone who would like to participate.
Also on the schedule for Tuesday is a special event that will celebrate its second anniversary at the fair.
“Last year we started a Diaper Derby,” said Ann Wheeler, a member of the Hamlet Lions Club. “It’s basically a crawling race open to any child that’s not walking yet. We had several people show up for that. This year we’ll have our second annual Diaper Derby. It was really enjoyed by all, so we’re looking forward to that this year.”
Wednesday, Sept. 19 will be Senior Citizens Day, in which seniors 55 years and older will have free admission by bringing two canned goods, which will be donated to the Hamlet Soup Kitchen. Entertainment will be provided by singer Beth McDonald, country musician Ervin V. Roscoe Jr., Hamlet Senior Cheerleaders and Hamlet Senior Line Dancers. A cattle demonstration and small animal care clinic will be held at 6:30 p.m., in addition to a poultry walk by John Hamer of Rockingham.
“Another thing we added last year and hope to carry on is that I’ve researched the animals that come in and tried to do placards about each one to tell people more about them,” Wheeler said. “I’ve really worked hard to improve the educational value of the fair, so we hope the people will come out and support it.”
Thursday, Sept. 20 will be Country Night with singer Bob Dotson and DJ Jimmie Reese. An archery demonstration will be provided by Dirt Road Archery of Hamlet.
Gospel Night will be held on Friday, Sept. 21, featuring Stan and Linda Jacobs, Di Vine VII, Mount Sinai Baptist Church, Ashley Chapel AME Zion Church Gospel Choir and the Gaddis Family. An equine demo by Sandra Chadbourne of Chadbourne Lodge and Stables in Hamlet will also be held.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, Jazz Night will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. with DJ Mortimer McLaughlin, jazz and R&B musician, followed by Michael Knight, another jazz and R&B musician, performing from 8 to 10 p.m. From 2 to 6 p.m., the Fayetteville VA Medical Center (Rural Health Team) will be on site to assist any veterans needing to get registered.
Temporary tattoos will also be available throughout the week.
Admission for the fair is $4 for everyone older than the age of 6, and free parking will be provided.
Advance armband tickets will be sold at the Hamlet Fairgrounds ticket booth for $12 on Sept. 8 from 12 to 4 p.m., and on Sept. 15, from 12 to 4 p.m.
For information about the fair, email email@example.com, or call Rena Shedrick-Marshall at 910-205-2862, Bill Bayless at 910-582-8613 or Ann Wheeler at 910-582-3658.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.