We can all hope to look so good and be so active at the age of 96. The Charles County Fair, occupying 35 acres south of La Plata, has kicked off for another run through Sunday.
Although it’s growing by leaps and bounds all the time, and is clearly a modern suburban area, Charles County still has plenty of events that celebrate its rural heritage. The best and biggest example of that is going on this weekend.
Want to see some farm animals? This is the right place. As always, there are plenty of pigs, sheep, cattle, lambs and goats, as well as chickens and rabbits.
Want to see an enormous watermelon? They’ve got you covered at the fair, not to mention loads of other fruits and vegetables of all varieties. And as we reported on Wednesday, there’s an exhibit on honey and beeswax to see as well as a host of baked goods and candy. And don’t forget to see the flowers.
Taken as a whole, the county fair looks like a giant and eclectic farm. And that’s the point. It’s an unabashed celebration of what remains of country life, coming just as summer changes into the harvest season of autumn. It’s an acknowledgment that for all our technological advances and increasingly sophisticated ways, the pastoral atmosphere of Charles County is alive and kicking.
Some people come to the fair for the many displays. Artwork and photography catch the eye, as do the 4-H and student exhibitions. Some people come for the rides. The Ferris wheel is a classic enticement, but there are plenty of opportunities for young and old to get the thrill of motion, or enjoy a slow spin on the carousel.
Some people come for the food — and there’s certainly no shortage of that. There’s something about the fallish air, music and constantly running into friends and neighbors that encourages one to try a caramel apple. Or teriyaki chicken on a stick. Or something fried that has no earthly business being fried — like a pickle or an Oreo cookie.
And nothing is quite like the pageantry of the crowning of Queen Nicotina, which took place last night. The title seems antiquated today, but it bears much of the fair’s history and reminds us of the important role tobacco played in the county’s — and the region’s — early successes in wealth generation.
Countless hours of work go into making the fair a success each year. The fair board plans all year long, working hard to ensure the event goes off without a hitch. The only thing they can’t control is the weather, but early forecasts put the chance of rain at no more than 40% each day, with temperatures agreeable for fair-goers.
And while there’s plenty of free parking at the fairgrounds, the fair board suggests leaving your vehicle at the satellite parking lot at the courthouse and government building and taking a shuttle bus to the fairgrounds. Buses will run every 15 to 30 minutes from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
We salute all of the hard, dedicated work the volunteers perform annually, and we hope Charles County residents will come out in droves to see and enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Support the fair, support the vendors and crafters, and celebrate the county’s rich history this weekend.
And if you dare, eat something fried.