Fall marks the return of the National Football League, the winding down of Major League Baseball’s regular season, pumpkin spiced everything and the return — following a one-year hiatus — of county fairs.

“If you could see the smile on my face you’d know [how happy I am],” said Charles County Fair Board President Glen R. Belmore, whose fair was one of the last in the state to be canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. “Last year really hit us hard because we were geared up and had made an action plan.”

“We’re very excited,” said Calvert County Fair Board President Carol Lee, who was forced to cancel last year’s event for the first time in its 134-year history. “Everybody’s working hard to get things up and running, and I think it’s all coming together.”

“We’re excited for it to start and we’re excited to have a good ol’ county fair,” St. Mary’s County Fair President John Richards said. “And you’ll find things you probably haven’t see before.”

Up first is the 97th annual Charles County Fair, which began yesterday, Sept. 16, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 19.

It will deal with the ongoing pandemic with online ticketing and the ability to use credit cards to purchase carnival tickets. A county ordinance requires masks in all buildings.

The fair will feature livestock shows, poultry judging, tractor and truck pulls, lawnmower races, baking contests, 4-H exhibits and the crowing of Queen Nicotina — a holdover name from when tobacco was “king” in Southern Maryland — and a new glass blowing demonstration, but the baby show has been canceled.

The fair will also offer COVID-19 vaccinations and free child identification packages offered by the state.

“Come on out and have a good time, some great food and see what Charles County has to offer from a historical point of view,” Belmore said, “as well as what’s new and what’s out there.”

The 74th annual St. Mary’s County Fair, which runs Thursday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 26, will feature attractions such as a horse pull, livestock judging, pig and hotdog racing, a decorated wagon contest, crowning of the Queen of Tolerance, live entertainment, carnival rides and a chainsaw artist.

As with the other county fairs, St. Mary’s canceled its 2020 event.

“Last year we thought, ‘Oh [next] year will be a piece of cake,’ yet here we are getting shots and wearing masks,” John Richards said. “But we know how to do it safely and everybody I’ve talked to is excited about it.”

The Calvert fair, which runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, will feature the usual attractions such as the Calvert County Idol contest, games, attractions, the crowning of Miss Tranquility and Lord Calvert, and livestock judging contests. Oct. 1 will host Youth Day and the Southern Maryland Mini Pullers. New this year will be horseshoe and cornhole tournaments.

Lee added that hand washing and sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the grounds.

“We’re doing everything we can,” she said, “and hopefully everybody will be safe and able to enjoy the fair.”

The Prince George’s County Fair was canceled for the second straight year. The board made the sudden announcement about the 2021 cancellation early last week.

Twitter: @MichaelSoMdNews

Twitter: @MichaelSoMdNews