HAMLET — Those 55 and older can get in for free at 4 this afternoon, when the gates open at the 60th annual Richmond County Agricultural Fair.
On Monday, the peahens and goats were in their chicken-wire cages, the giant Tweetie Birds were arrayed at the games of chance, and the Ferris wheel was up but not yet turning. And midway manager Donna Inners, followed by a gaggle of 11 Chihuahuas, surveyed the landscape, monitoring carnies and state inspectors. Inners shows also brought its games, rides and concessions to Hamlet last year.
“If these dogs could work, I’d have a crew,” joked Inners, who works and lives in a 53-foot trailer she pulls behind a semi truck. It gets pride of place on the fairgrounds; traveling carnies at the back of the fair.
This year’s games and rides are an encore of last year’s offerings — dragon cars on a track, a fun house and a carousel, among them. Joining them is a new concession unit that will serve fair staples: ice cream and funnel cakes.
Peking Wok and the AMVETS will sell Chinese food, and hamburgers and hot dogs, respectively.
Over at the agricultural part of the fair, Lions Club member and Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless oversaw the community organizations putting together their booths and the ladies laying out artwork, knitting and foods for judging. The fair is an annual fundraiser for the Hamlet Lions Club, which uses the proceeds to provide vision screenings and eyeglasses to the community.
As of Monday, the fairgrounds was not yet the sucking mud hole it was last year, and in some years past.
“Not yet,” Bayless said with a note of skepticism. “Every afternoon, we’re expecting thundershowers. That’s the way it is (in Richmond County). If you have a race or if you have a fair, it will rain.”
Still, he said, “I hope most of this (wet) weather goes west” as it did Sunday night.
Gearing up for the worst, organizers set the portable toilets up on a cement slab this year, so people having to answer the call of nature won’t have to stand up to their ankles in mud. And the Inners workers moved the giant Rapid Slide away from what was a swamp last year and onto higher ground.
This year, the agricultural exhibits come mostly from area farmers, not 4-Hers, who are exhibiting at the state fair, also running this week. The show also is a little short of bunnies this year, Bayless said. But there are horses, donkeys, chickens galore and ducks.
The exhibits will be judged this morning and winners posted by the 4 p.m. opening.
On Wednesday, Richmond County sheriff’s deputies will guide and feed disabled students during special morning hours.
“I enjoy (that) more than the kids do,” Inners said of the traditional Wednesday mornings. “When they leave, we have tears in our eyes.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.