uac091510001.gif It is that time of year … (slightly) cooler weather, shorter days, back to school, and the county fair.

The folks at the Crown Center Coliseum Complex are hard at work preparing for the more than 45,000 visitors who come out each year to check out the exhibits, contests, rides and of course the food.

This is the 20th annual Cumberland County Agricultural Fair, and it is scheduled to run from Sept. 16 to Sept. 26. There is a lot going on this year so mark your calendar — you may want to make more than one trip just so you can take in as much of the fun as you can.

Cumberland County Livestock Association, the Cumberland County School System, the Cooperative Extension Service, the local Farm Bureau and several other business and media representatives, along with other volunteers who just have the love for a county fair in their hearts, started working on this year’s fair as soon as last year’s adventure ended.

All of the favorites will be there — the rides, the fair food (think funnel cakes, cotton candy, candy apples and more), the games, the exhibits and competitions.

“I’d like people to know how hard the committee has been working all year long on planning the fair,” said Event Coordinator Hubert Bullard. “There is a ton of entertainment and special attractions — all free once you get into the fair (except the concerts). We have the largest interactive petting zoo in the state, and that includes the state fair. We have several new things this year — the trout fi shing pond is new. Folks can fi sh till they catch a trout. The Star Family Circus is new this year too.”

There are some pretty amazing events lined up too that you won’t want to miss. This year’s event, according to Bullard, features two nights of motor cross racing, professional wrestling, two nights of professional bull riding and each night is full of entertainment showcasing the talents of local singers, dancers and karate groups.

Don’t miss the livestock shows and demonstrations and a sanctioned poultry show. The Cape Fear Cheerleading Championships and the Cumberland County Fair Step Off competition will also be held during the fair.

WKML is working with event organizers to host a country concert that will feature Guy Penrod, the former lead09-15-10-fair-wheelgongola.gif singer for the Gaither Vocal Band, and Joey and Roy, an act that is gaining popularity in the country music scene.

Daily entertainment will include Star Family Circus, Eudora Farms, helicopter rides, trout fi shing — catch & release, bumblebee monster truck rides, chain saw carving demonstrations, toddler driving school and camel and pony rides.

Special events will include Hispanic Day (Sept. 18), Senior Day (Sept. 24) along with Motorcross Weekend (Sept. 17 - 18), Diaper Derby and Parent Olympics (Sept.18), Fair Queens Pageant (Sept. 18), Ring Wars Carolina Professional Wrestling (Sept. 21), Cape Fear Cheerleading Contest (Sept. 16), Cumberland County Invitational Step Show (Sept. 25) and bull riding championships (Sept. 19 & 25).

“We change up our entertainment and add new things every year,” said Bullard. “We also have a number of live stock shows and hundreds of livestock exhibits, too.”

Honestly, there really is something for everyone at the fair, and Bullard and the other fair organizers look forward to seeing their efforts pay off once the fair opens and the crowds start pouring in.

“My favorite thing is seeing folks have a good time — especially the children.” said Bullard. “To see their smiling faces and know that people leave the fair with a warm fuzzy feeling — then we’ve achieved our mission.”

They are even making it easier than ever to avoid the crowds at the gates by offering advance ticket sales to the public. The $20 entry fee includes admission, unlimited rides and more than $25 in coupons for free food and drinks at the fair.

Tickets can be purchased until close of business on the day before the fair begins at local ticket outlets around the city and county and at the Crown Coliseum box offi ce. For the first time this year, tickets can also be purchased from Ticketmaster. Call 438-4100 for additional information. Look for special discount days too. Students get in free on Sept. 22, the military (and military family members) get a discount on Sept. 21 and on the last day of the fair patrons who bring a church bulletin will get in free, too.

To find out more, visit www.cumberlandcountyfair.org or call 309-5785.

Photo: The fair runs through Sept. 26. Don’t miss it!

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