Dreary skies and the occasional rain shower stinted progress at the Hamlet Fairgrounds on Monday, but fair coordinators and participants said their hopes are still high. The 55th annual Richmond County Agricultural Fair begins today and will carry on through Saturday, Sept. 22.
“Right now we are glad that the rain has subsided,” Assistant Manager Rena Shedrick-Marshall said on Monday. “Otherwise, we’re doing pretty good. We’re working on finalizing everything.”
On Monday, those inside the Exhibition Building worked to prepare their tables, while the livestock barn continued to fill with assorted birds, goats, horses and rabbits.
Private judging will begin at 8 a.m. today, and fairgoers can view the winners once gates open at 4 p.m.
On the way back from the livestock barn, visitors are encouraged to check out the Exhibition Building where they can see booths with agricultural information as well as quilts, flowers, arts and crafts and canned goods.
Cassie Williamson, a 91-year-old Lady Lion, has held an exhibit for more than 40 years at the fair.
“I started in the early ’70s,” Williamson said as she made last-minute preparations to her exhibit. “I’ve climbed these steps many-a-times, and it’s been a lot of fun … I’ll be here as long as I can.”
Williamson’s exhibit features various items in the arts and crafts category, including pictures, Christmas items and afghans and quilts. She added that she was hopeful that people would participate in the fair’s bingo stand this year, which has been stocked with some “very nice prizes.”
Visitors to the fair can also expect some new entertainment this year.
“We have some new rides that are going to be here for the older people,” Shedrick-Marshall said.
Among those rides is Monkey Mayhem, which features giant barrels that promise to shake up anyone bold enough to take a test-ride. Also new this year is a colorful train-ride targeted for both children and adults.
It’s not all about fun and games.
“We also have a number of veterans in this community … who are unable to get to Fayetteville to get registered and get things done that they need to have done, so I have invited the Veterans Administration Rural Health team to come down,” said Shedrick-Marshall. “They will be here on Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. I urge these individuals to come and get registered and find out where they need to go and what they need to do to get their benefits taken care of and find resources for things that they need.
“I want to put a special emphasis on our females (veterans) getting here as well,” she added. “Most of the time the males will come, but the females don’t make it — either they don’t have a ride or they don’t know about it — they may be even ill somewhere, but we have homeless females in Richmond County that people are unaware of. If you are reading this paper and you know a female that needs to have their benefits taken care of, or needs to work on something, they need to contact this Rural Health team.”
Fairground gates open at 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $4 for ages 6 and older. Free parking is provided.
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.