Loudoun County Fair organizer Terry Corle considers a week at the annual fair his vacation.
"That’s what a lot of folks do. They take their vacation and go to the fair every day," said Corle, adult chairman of the fair committee and a member of the board of directors for Loudoun Fair and Associates, Inc. "It’s just a fun week of activities, [and] it’s a very fun, festive, exciting atmosphere."
This year, about 75 volunteers will put on the 68th annual fair, which will be held July 28-Aug. 2 at the Loudoun County Fair Grounds. The volunteers will give more than 300 4-H youth a chance to showcase their work and act as their mentors and teachers. In turn, the 4-H youth will bring in the cattle, sheep, hogs, lambs and other animals they raised over the past year, the vegetables they grew and the baked goods, crafts and other projects they created to be judged for blue ribbons in more than 100 categories, all agriculture-related. They will compete in shows, judging and showmanship events at the Large Show Barn and the other barns at the fair grounds.
"It’s a culmination of all of their hard work for the year," said Corle, who as chairman is the general manager of the fair. "They’re at the fairgrounds all week long. Some of them sleep there."
Fair Week gives the 4-H youth an opportunity "to share their experiences and the projects they have been working on for a year with the public," said Corey Childs, director of extension services and the agriculture and natural resources extension agent for the Loudoun County Extension Office.
CALLED "A Great Country Fair" for the second year in a row, the fair will feature a Carnival Midway, a rodeo, a bluegrass jam and contests such as kiss-a-pig, the hay bale toss and tug-a-war, along with other events.
"It’s a very traditional fair. It’s based quite a bit around agriculture, but it is a personal kind of fair," Childs said. "You get a lot of individual attention with the people who are putting it on. … You can walk through the facilities and visit fair participants. You can get your questions answered easily and learn a lot."
Every day, a carnival in the midway area of the fair grounds will be hosted by Pennsylvania company Snyder Amusements, a family-run business. There will be two new events, the rodeo on July 31 and the Open Bluegrass Jam 2003 on Aug. 2 with "some toe tapping and even some dancing," as Corle said. "Anybody that can play an instrument can jam with each other. We’re expecting quite a crowd."
More than 35 commercial vendors will have booths set up to sell food and products and to promote their businesses and organizations. Every evening at 5 p.m., there will be a BBQ or dinner, such as the beef, lamb, chicken and pork BBQs.
"It truly is a fun-filled week of good wholesome entertainment … the noise, the smells, the cotton candy, the rides and the animals," Corle said. "I’m in seventh heaven right now. … The smell of cotton candy, the smell of the barns all permeates together. When you close your eyes, you know you’re at the fair. I get excited talking about it."
"It’s a great experience, and more people should take the time to visit their local fair," Childs said.
THE LOUDOUN 4-H program is a youth development program for youth ages 5-19 hosted by the Loudoun County Extension Office, the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To participate in the fair, 4-H members have to belong to a 4-H club, such as the Beef Club if they want to showcase beef cattle.
"The 4-H educates kids on how to care for and maintain animals, how to grow vegetables, anything associated with agriculture," Corle said.
The proceeds from the fair will be used to maintain 12 acres of fair grounds and the 4-H buildings on the property. The fair grounds, which are located on Dry Mill Road three miles west of Leesburg, are owned by Loudoun Fair and Associates.