Glenn R. Belmore remembers a Japanese dance troupe, Larry Titus remembers it as being his family’s vacation and John Richards remembers being hospitalized after being stung by a yellowjacket.
And the respective presidents of the Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s fair boards hope that each visitor to the county fair comes away with memories of their own — hopefully fun, positive ones.
“The key is good people doing good jobs. We all have our little part to do,” Belmore said recently as he sat in a meeting room at the Charles County fairgrounds with maps and to-do lists hanging on the walls. “It takes a good group and we have a good group.”
The Charles County Fair kicked off this week and continues through Sunday. St. Mary’s County Fair is set for next week, while Calvert’s annual fair will kick off the last week of September.
“No it never gets old because there’s always something new happening or not happening, and plenty of new volunteers who are taking over and doing things,” Richards, long-time president of the St. Mary’s fair, said. “When I hear people say I can’t wait for next year’s fair, that’s the best thing I can hear.”
“I feel like a rookie, but I’m surrounded by so many good people with a ton of experience and good skillsets so it makes the job very pleasant,” said first-year Calvert Fair President Larry Titus, who joined the fair board in 1989. “It can be [overwhelming] because there’s always something new, but you want to be sure that it’s safe and you always want to give the best quality product you can to the fairgoers. You give them your best.”
Among the offerings at the Charles County Fair this Friday (Kid’s Day) will be horsemanship contests, livestock shows and poultry judging. Saturday will have such events as a pretty animal contest, pie-eating contest and lawnmower races. Sunday will see horse pulling, presentation of queen and court and glass art and wood carving auction on Sunday.
Belmore said such acts as pig races, a reptile guy and woodcarving “draw a big crowd so when we see that we want to bring them back, but we also look out there to see what’s different.”
Pure Play Every Day, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people through play, will host a free Nature Play Space throughout the fair.
Charles County started online ticketing last year while Rosedale Attractions will accept credit cards for ride tickets.
“It’s one of the things that I see as the future,” Belmore said. “Some people like to do things the same way and if you do it the same way you’re not going to grow. A lot of people say, ‘Well, this is an old county fair.’ And it is, but we’re also moving into the 22nd century.”
Celebrating its silver anniversary, the 75th annual St. Mary’s County Fair will be held Sept. 22 to 25 in Leonardtown.
Sept. 22 (Queen of Tolerance Day) will offer attractions such as a pageant, mini horse pull and a 4-H horse drill team demonstration. Sept. 23 (School and 4-H Activities Day) will have horse and livestock shows, K-9 demonstrations, speech contest and concert. On Sept. 24 (Parade Day), featured events include livestock shows, chain saw sculptures and a jousting tournament. Sept. 25 (Family Day) events will include a baby contest, gospel concert, tractor pull and ride-all-day carnival rides.
“[Preparations are] coming along fine,” Richards said earlier this month. “We’ll have everything ready for everything that gets packed into those four days.”
The Calvert fair, which is in its 135th year, will be held in Prince Frederick from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.
The first day of the Calvert fair will be “Feed The Needy Night” and feature opening ceremonies, Rhinestone Roper Wild West, Joe Stebbings’ chainsaw carvings and the Calvert County Idol contest. Sept. 29 (Senior Citizen and Special Needs Day) will have Ninja Experience, an agricultural showcase trailer and open swine show. Sept. 30 (Youth Day) will have tractor pulling, a performance by the Southern Maryland Boot Scooters and a sheep show. Oct. 1 will feature a cornhole tournament, livestock auction and a cattle show while Oct. 2 will feature such events as an antique tractor pull, horseshoe contest, children’s contest and concert by the Country Gentlemen Tribute Band.
“We still want to be a traditional fair and we still want people to have affordable family-type entertainment with a variety of activities and events that will meet every family’s desire,” Titus said. “But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and it hasn’t been broke in over a 100 years.”