{mosimage}Last year, more than 45,000 men, women and children walked through the turnstiles at the Cumberland County Fair at the Crown Coliseum Complex, indulging in funnel cake and candy apples, testing whether those contents would stay in their stomachs on dozens of carnival rides, showing off their gaming skills on the ring toss and attempting to pluck the elusive winning duck from a tepid tub of water in hopes of winning an overstuffed teddy bear or perhaps a Justin Timberlake poster.
    This year, Fair Manager Hubert Bullard expects even more people show up over the 10 days of the fair, and he says those folks are in for the biggest and best fair experience in the history of Cumberland County.
“A lot of soldiers were deployed last year so I do expect an even bigger crowd this year,” said Bullard. “And while we don’t have the big name musical acts we’ve had in the past, I do believe we’ve got more family-friendly entertainment than we’ve ever had.”
    The fair, scheduled to kick off on Thursday, Sept. 18, and run through Sunday, Sept. 28, boasts more than 30 carnival rides, vendors offering everything from grilled sausage to barbecue to banana pudding, and the ever popular agricultural exhibits — after all, the stated mission of the fair is to “to showcase and preserve the history and legacy of the agricultural communities in Cumberland County.”
    This year’s fair also promises to be one of the most diverse ever, with a number of days dedicated to different groups and causes, including Motorsports Weekend, Kindergarten Day, Paraglide Military Appreciation Night, Cargill Hunger Relief Day and Hispanic Day.
    Speaking of Hispanic Day, internationally known Latin entertainer Marlon, who recently played to a crowd of more than 10,000 in South America, will bring his singing talents to the fairgrounds.
“They’re calling him the new Marc Anthony,” said Bullard.
    Bullard says the fair will also feature contemporary Christian music superstars Building 429, a couple of kids who started out with humble beginnings while attending Campbell University and are now among the hottest Christian acts in America. Their song “Glory Defined” topped eight separate charts and was declared BMI’s Christian Song of the Year, while the group went on to capture the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.
    In addition to great music, the fair offers a number of special events, including the always hilarious Toddler Training School; the Cumberland County Invitational Step Show, featuring middle school, junior high school and high school step and dance teams from three states; the Cape Fear Regional Cheerleading Championships; a demolition derby; Al the Artist, who will drive around the fairground drawing caricatures of fairgoers free of charge; the Great American Frontier Show, a  tribute to the frontier people and animals that built America, featuring demonstrations of natural animal behavior, wildlife and environmental conservation; the No Joe Clown Circus, a group of clowns who are deadly serious about donating their proceeds to  nonprofit, charitable organizations; and, Buffalo Barfield & Unheard of Entertainment, a troupe of entertainers that performs pop, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, country, Motown and beach music, mixing in stage props and slapstick comedy.
    For all you thrill seekers, Bullard says there will be three new rides this year: the Himalaya, Fireball and a new swing ride.
    There will also be numerous tents housing vendors, exhibits and arts and crafts.
    Bullard says an army of about 500 will be working the fair, some of whom labor all year long to put on the event.
“These folks work all year to provide a 10-day event that we hope to make as memorable as possible for the residents of Cumberland County,” said Bullard. “I think it will be the best fair ever.”
    Admission is $6, kids under 2 are free. For schedules and information, check out the Web site www.cumberlandcountyfair.org.


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