School is back in session, the weather is cooling off (sort of) and the days are getting shorter. That can only mean one thing — it’s time for the Cumberland County Agricultural Fair. Opening Sept. 15 and running through Sept. 25, the fair promises a good time for everyone.09-07-11-fair.jpg

The goal of the fair is to “showcase and preserve the history and legacy of agricultural communities in Cumberland County; to celebrate the diversity of local arts and crafts; to promote a safe setting for fun, healthy family entertainment featuring music, motorsports and animals; and to encourage an environment of friendly competition for all ages.” It’s the way they do it that makes a day of strolling the midway and visiting exhibits such a great time.

First, they go big — really big. It takes several of the parking lots and four buildings at the Crown Center to hold the rides, exhibits, games and food vendors that entertain more than 45,000 visitors each year. In fact, the Cumberland County Agricultural Fair is one of the largest events hosted by the Crown each year.

The exhibits include agricultural, artistic, culinary, animal and handcraft categories. There are also educational exhibits, and of course, the rides and yummy fair food that everyone looks forward to with great anticipation. After all, what is a day at the fair without cotton candy and popcorn?T

here are also a variety of entertaining shows throughout the 10-day run. There are three 30-minute shows of Friendly Farmers Barn Yard Review each day, featuring music, magic and comedy. Also showing three times a day, don’t miss the racing pigs and the pig paddling porkers. Keeping with the cowboy theme, there will be bull riding, too

.Chainsaw artist Rick Cox will perform chainsaw art demonstrations, and don’t forget to swing by the petting zoo. Some other exhibits include a toddler driving school, farmer for a day, which will be hosted by the Cumberland County 4-H Clubs, paintball competitions, the Cape Fear Railroaders Model Train Exhibit and camel and pony rides.

On Sept. 16 and 17 don’t miss the motorcross weekend races. Practice starts at 4 p.m. and the race is at 7 p.m. Also on Sept. 17, is the Diaper Derby and Parent Olympics. The Fair Queens Pageant will be on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Sept. 24, it’s a stomping good time at the Cumberland County Invitational Step Show, which starts at 2 p.m.

Something new in the mix this year is pink day at the fair in support of breast cancer awareness. Observed on Sept. 17, the fi rst 4,000 visitors who come to the fair will receive a pink bracelet as well as a cup that can be fi lled at the food vendors for a $1 — that is half of the regular price. In addition, $1 of all admission fees that day will be donated to the Cape Fear Valley Breast Care Center.

The fair has a new price structure that is sure to suit the community. Event organizer Hubert Bullard is excited about what it means for patrons to the fair. With the new price structure, visitors to the fair pay for admission and the price includes rides, entertainment and contests.

“Everything at the fair would be free after that, including free unlimited carnival rides. It is a bargain. Now a family can come to the fair cheaper than they can go to the movies,” said Bullard.

Buy in advance, and get an even better deal.

“It is a tremendous deal to buy tickets in advance. For the price of $10, buying in advance, the purchaser would also get $41 worth of free products at the fair,” said Bullard. “Food, soft drinks, free pony rides and things like that are the real advantage of buying in advance.” There are several locations currently selling tickets. You can find them at the Crown Center Box Office, 4-H offices, at any Short Stop in Cumberland County and online at Ticketmaster.com.

Visit www.cumberlandcountyfair.org for more information.

Photo: For the best deals, buy your tickets to the Cumberland County Agricultural Fair in advance.

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