The sun is setting over the St. Mary’s County fairgrounds but the fairgoers are still steadily pouring in through the gates. It is 7 pm on Friday night and the smell of funnel cake and corn dogs fill the air with that sweet smell of a swiftly fading summer. St. Mary’s County Public schools were closed today to allow its residents to celebrate the fair without fear of missing school. The St. Mary’s County fair is an integral part of what makes this county so great, and is another fantastic reason for going to school down here in the county. Back to the basics of 4H, farming, and good old fashioned fun, the county fair connects 21st century families to this county’s historic farm roots.
One of the best parts of any fair is the food. To satisfy a sweet tooth, many different options are available. Whether it be a plate of crispy funnel cake covered in powdered sugar, an apple dumpling drenched in caramel and whipped cream, or a scrumptious caramel apple, it’s all there for delicious consumption. If it’s dinner food that strikes fairgoer’s fancy, there’s a large array of options to choose from including favorites like corn dogs, shrimp baskets, and chicken dishes, and then the more modern choices such as gyros, barbecued chicken skewers, and kielbasa. For drinks there are the options of soft drinks, freshly squeezed lemonade, ice cold beers and ciders, and of course bottled water.
And, of course, the fair had a multitude of attractions to captivate anyone’s attention. Farmers brought their animals in from all over the county to strut their stuff in the livestock competitions. There were goats and sheep, cows, bunnies, pigs, chickens, ducklings, and other assorted farm animals competing for the prized title of Best In Show. The 4H awards had an entire barn to themselves with many sumptuous-looking fruits and vegetables on display decked out in every kind of placing ribbon. The pig races and Clydesdale show captivated audience members and local business representatives and public figures alike, who came to show their St. Mary’s County pride, and snag some quality advertising at the same time. A “True Love Waits” booth was a fun stop to pick up “Live Pure” temporary tattoos and fill out a true love test checklist in case of any fairgoers who questioned their partner’s undying devotion. The religious undertones were obvious, but the women running the booth were friendly and good spirited.
For the young and young at heart, there was a plethora of sideshow games offering tantalizing prizes and promises of fun for a small fee. Fair favorites like target shooting and that game where a contestant tries to throw a small ring around a glass bottle could be found all over, as well as games to win goldfish and giant inflatable aliens. And the rides! Thrilling and spinning the whole day long, they lit up as the evening rolled in and clouds darkened. The ferris wheel and the drop towers were the sights to see, illuminating the excited faces of riders queuing up below, and towering over the fairground’s skyline with their glittering show of multi-colored lights. The air was full of laughter and the mouth-watering smell of popcorn and candied nuts. Occasionally a passerby would look up as a ‘Vote Republican!’ emblazoned red balloon drifted up and across the sky. The St. Mary’s spirit was present in all corners of the fair; all you had to do was look.