On March 7, 1914, at an intrasquad game at the Fayetteville Fair Grounds, George Herman Ruth Jr., better known now as “Babe,” took the plate. Ruth was a new player for the Baltimore Orioles, back when it was only in the minor leagues. Fayetteville was just a stop for training at the time.
As Babe took the plate in the seventh inning, Ruth hit the first homer of his career and earned Fayetteville a small part of baseball history. This year, Cumberland County Fair will return with a homage to the love of baseball and the role it’s played in Fayetteville and agriculture.
“Baseball did impact agriculture in this area,” said Madeleine Eversole, the marketing director for the Crown Complex. “It’ll be tied in.”
The fair will be hosted at the Crown Complex from Sept. 2 to 11. The title of this year’s fair is “Take Me Out … To the Fair!”
“One of the really cool things is that the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension will have a display area that focuses on that educational, agricultural part of the fair. They are going to have some really fun baseball tie-ins.”
Along with these displays, the fair will host a step and dance show, beauty pageant, ribbon cutting ceremony and about 20 different food vendors. The vendors will include everything from seafood to barbecue and snow cones to breakfast foods. And, of course, it will provide fair staples like corn dogs, cotton candy and probably a deep-fried item or two.
There will also be standard rides available like a ferris wheel.
As to be expected in an agricultural community, the fair members will host livestock and a petting zoo.
The most exciting part for Eversole, however, is the ability to gather again.
“There are no restrictions on things. A lot of those have been lifted. We can all enjoy getting together again,” she said. “We are still being really cautious but it’s more of a focus on fun.”
And fun has been the focus of the county members since they began planning the fair last October — only getting about a month break between the fair that had just happened and the beginning of the next one that would take place.
Eversole says a lot goes into the preparation for the event with 50 to 100 people getting the area ready and hundreds working shifts during its operation.
“We are not a year round fair ground. It’s a huge undertaking … You have to make sure you have power for all those vendors. It’s a ton of thinking about what really needs to go into making this happen,” she said.
As with every year, people within the community can enter into the various contests like those for livestock, vegetables, pickling, canning, jams, crafts and much more.
This year, Eversole said, they anticipate for the attendance to be really strong.
“First and foremost, the fair is a great experience for the community because everyone gets to bring the family out and enjoy spending time together,” Eversole said. “There’s something for everyone at the fair.”
For kids, Eversole says, there will be a lot of educational opportunities. Kids can come and learn about livestock and that “food doesn’t just come from the grocery store.”
In the future, she says that the members of the county are hoping to increase rural involvement and bring more livestock to the fair.
“Really we want to do anything we can to increase awareness of the agricultural community. That’s what sets us apart from simply being a carnival,” she said. “That added educational aspect of the fair is the true focal point of this event.”
Eversole and the other members of the Crown Complex invite everyone to grab some loved ones and take them out to the fair and maybe, learn a little about agriculture and baseball.