All News & Blogs
The Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair closes out after 10 days. Organizer says they set attendance records.
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 8/6/2012
A hot and breezy Sunday marked the close of Fredericksburg's 274th annual Agricultural Fair.
And while the rides, games, food and performers were still there for all to enjoy, there was a hint of closing time in the air.
Especially for those who spent the entire 10 days hunkered down at the fairgrounds.
Chain saw carver Brian Ackley spent many hours carving logs into bears, Indians and owls, to mention a few of his impressive creations.
The 43-year-old former Marine, sporting tattoos on his arms and legs and walking around barefoot, enjoys the look in people's eyes when they see what he can do with a whirring chain saw. But he looked worn out.
"This is the last day, and I'm a bit burned out," said gravel-voiced Ackley, a New Jersey man. "It's been brutally hot out here."
Like many other performers and workers at the fair, Ackley stopped in Fredericksburg as part of a season of fair-hopping. He travels for three months during the fair season along the East Coast.
The rest of the time, he does commission work or carves out images from stumps of felled trees.
Now, he'll pack up and head south to the Chesterfield County fair.
Not far away from Ackley, a still-enthusiastic Brent Cook was emcee of the Hogway Speedway.
The Newton, N.C., resident kept the ham jokes flying as he introduced the pigs, goats and ducks that raced around the little fenced-in race course.
"Is everybody ready to see a pig race?" he belted out early in the afternoon to applause from dozens who'd gathered to watch the likes of "Hammy Hamlin" race for the Cheese Doodle prize. Hammy, by the way, took the first race, which was marred by a T-shirt that fell on the track and caused quite a bit of confusion.
The highlight of the four races, though, were the ducks. Squealing Tony Stewart took that race by a neck.
Cook, who along with his wife, Stephanie, runs Circle C Petting Farm, said they take the Hogway Speedway show up and down the East Coast from March through November.
After Fredericksburg, he said, they will head north to a fair in Gaithersburg, Md.
They've been doing this since the early 1990s, he said, and still enjoy it.
They put on several more races Sunday before wrapping it up with the rest of the fair's festivities.
"We've had record crowds, basically," fair organizer Travis Bullock said late in the afternoon, just after finishing the silent auction for Ackley's carvings. "We've closed the gates six out of 10 days."
The official attendance numbers weren't available last night. Last year, 25,000 attended the fair.
Bullock said the goal was to "bring the families back" to the fair, and they did that with things like the pig races, Hansen's Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations and NoJoes Clown Circus.
Bullock said the volunteers also were key to making the fair a success.
"The community stepped up."
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436