Silver Chips Online

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair opens its gates

Annual event brings entertainment and education to the county

By David Zheng, Online Entertainment Editor
August 13, 2007
The 59th annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair opened Friday, attracting tens of thousands of visitors with "country fun in the city sun," as advertised on the fair's website.

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, covering over 60 acres of Gaithersburg, is the largest in Maryland. It attracted approximately 215,000 people in 2006 and even more are expected to attend this year, according to Data Entry and Office Assistant Cathy Shepard.

The nine-day event showcases nearly 15,000 exhibits including livestock, amusement rides, contests, educational demonstrations, special events and much more. Among the special events are a monster truck show, demolition derby, pig racing and aerial acrobatics. "We try and build on the old with the new," Fair Director Liam Sullivan said. "This year we have two new rides, many more exhibits and a high-wire act with a motorcycle."
Amusement rides and game booths line the fair's streets. David Zheng
Amusement rides and game booths line the fair's streets.


Forty amusement rides, ranging from the average merry-go-round to a freefall thriller, are scattered across the fairgrounds. Food booths, some serving authentic specialty foods, and classic carnival games such as "Test Your Strength" and "Ring Toss" are similarly spread throughout the fair. Visitors also have the opportunity to participate in various contests such as the watermelon seed spitting and cheese carving competitions for prizes.

There are over 30 areas to see livestock, ranging from rabbits to cows, to even honeybees. Visitors can observe ribbon-winning horses, goats and pigs or, if they are lucky, witness the birth of a cow at the Milking Parlor and Birthing Center. "We just had our first calf born yesterday," Sullivan said.

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair originally began as a one-day livestock show in 1949 sponsored by the 4-H club. It was designed to promote young people's interest in the county's 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) organizations. The fair, still closely tied to 4-H, is now a way for people of any demographic uninvolved in agriculture to see the farming lifestyle.

Exhibits such as demonstrations of wool shearing, water erosion and fertilization line up on the side of the road. "People from all over still come showcase their exhibits here," Shepard said. "Some do it for the recognition of their work, some to show off their agricultural skills and some use this as an opportunity to sell their products." Fairgoers can take part of the farm back home through animal sales and auctions.

Community Square, an area in the fair, features "Kid Bucks" full day events and activities for children. "There are always improvements to make this a better learning experience for kids," Shepard said. Every evening at 7:30 p.m. families can watch outdoor projection movies such as "Charlotte's Web."

Starting today, each day will have a special admission or carnival special designated to it such as free admission for children or half price on all rides. "I've been here for 18 years this is our biggest fair yet," Shepard said. "There's just something for everyone."

For more information, visit http://www.mcagfair.com.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/7678