The 281st annual Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair is back in town from July 26 to Aug. 4 with a wide range of children’s activities, a demolition derby, performances from local musicians, contests, bingo and an all-season ice skating rink.

The theme of this year’s fair is “Carnival Lights and Timeless Delights.” It was chosen by the fair’s 17 board members. “I think what it means is we’re talking about the carnival lights up here, and when you’re here, it’s timeless delights. Everybody’s having fun and in good spirits,” said Travis Bullock, the general manager of the fair.

The fair, which has seen a resurgence in growth in the past decade, has been at the same location since 1950, according to Bullock, and continues to be a place where community members can gather. “It’s a meeting place, it’s an annual event … It’s kind of a gathering place to meet and to have fun and enjoy yourself,” he said.



NEW AT THE FAIR

For the first time ever, the fair will have an all-season ice skating rink, which will be available every day beginning at 5:30 p.m. The rink, which is made out of Plexiglas, might be familiar to folks who saw it at the Fourth of July celebration in downtown Fredericksburg. The idea to bring the ice skating rink to the fair came from Kevin Trainham, owner of Trainham Tents and the ice rink.

While not exactly new to the fair, bingo fans will be glad to hear that it is back and will be held every day at varying times. Bingo will be hosted by the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank this year and all proceeds will be donated to the food bank.

Bingo used to be a regular feature brought to the fair by Deggeller Attractions, but it was phased out about six years ago. According to board member Carey “C.W.” Snellings, it is a “big request” people have had since it disappeared from the fair’s lineup.

Also new to the fair’s calendar is the ATV Drag Race, which will be featured on Monday at 7 p.m. at Motor Sports Park.

OLD FAVORITES

Popular attractions like Ackmonster Chainsaw Art, a raging mechanical bull, pig racing and the classic petting zoo featuring pony and camel rides will also be at the fair.

Chainsaw artist Brian Ackley and his works has been a staple of the fair for eight years. Ackley will return to create more of his sculptures, which range from flamingos and giraffes to bear benches and deer chairs. If you attend the fair, you can see his creations take shape in person every day.

The fair continues to hold arts and crafts for children in the homemaker’s building, with a new activity every day. From creating a bird feeder to a butterfly magnet, there will be a good variety of activities available.

Recently, the fairgrounds knocked down two old buildings in the hopes of making a new pavilion. This has made more space for their petting zoo, which will feature all the usual animals and includes both pony and camel rides. There will also be rabbits, fowl and waterfowl in the building next to the petting zoo, where the fair has recently bought 200 new cages for the animals. Cattle, rabbits, poultry and sheep will also be competing at the fair.

The fan-favorite demolition derby has been extended by a day this year, running for three days instead of the usual two. The first demolition derby is scheduled for Friday.

CONTESTS

For those on the more competitive side, there are plenty of contests held throughout the 10-day fair. A cake and cupcake decorating contest, as well as a creative clay contest and a chocolate contest, can be viewed in the homemaker’s building anytime. There will also be contests for fruit and vegetables, canned goods, baked goods and handcrafts. All contests are judged Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.

The creative clay contest provides kids the opportunity to create their own farm animals out of clay, and the chocolate contest calls for participants to make their own chocolate recipes.

The variety of contests draws in about 225 participants, with some people entering 10-15 different items themselves. Another 50-75 people participate in the flower competition. According to Teresa Bullock, a fair board member, the contests bring in a lot of excitement from the participants who like to come back and see if their entry won.

“Especially the kids, they love to come in to see the prizes,” said Teresa Bullock.

Also at the fair is the Miss Fredericksburg Fair Pageant, which draws in a large group of people, Travis Bullock said. The pageant has about 49 girls in total participating this year, with 14 girls competing in the Miss and Teen Miss Fredericksburg Fair categories on Friday. The Pre-Teen Miss, Little Miss and Tiny Miss categories will be competing Monday.

The pageant has a total of five categories this year, after dropping the categories for ages 1 month to 4 years old.

“The girls are really excited. We have some new ones and some returning ones,” said pageant chairperson and fair board member Dottie Gibson.

The pageant, musical performances and the Thunder 104.5 Rising Star competition will take place at the recently dedicated Travis C. Bullock Pavilion.

MUSIC

The fair has an eclectic lineup of musical performances, including DJ Bill Carroll, the Real Deal Band, Steve Jarrell and Friends, and “Memories of Elvis” by Michael Hoover.

New this year are local musicians J.D. Roberts and Lee Odell.

Odell, a Spotsylvania native, has been performing for over 20 years. While Odell is new to the fair, he has played at other events that have taken place on the fairgrounds in the past.

Odell and his band play a mixture of R&B, blues, country, pop and funk. “We like to dance. Dance and have a good time,” said Odell.

He continued, “I appreciate the chance to play the fair and I can’t wait to rock out with everybody.”

Odell will be onstage Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.

Jarrell, who performed at the fair for 10 years before moving to Nashville and missed last year’s fair, will be back to play on the Fairway Stage to celebrate his 70th birthday on Aug. 3.

“It’s going to be a busy little place and we’ll have a lot of fun,” said Travis Bullock.

Hailey Bullis: 540/374-5469 hbullis@freelancestar.com

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