With September here, the annual Surry County Agricultural Fair can’t be far away — with organizers promising a bigger and better event this year.
That will include a change in the provider of midway rides and attractions. Dreamland Amusements will fill that role when the local fair — now in its 67th year — begins on Sept. 10 and runs through Sept. 14 at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street in Mount Airy.
“Actually, I think it’s going to be a lot better,” Katherine Thorpe, who is co-chairing the fair, said of the Dreamland Amusements operation, which will replace another entity that has supplied the midway entertainment in recent years.
“He’s got new and more up-to date equipment,” Thorpe added of the 2014 provider based near Wilmington, which boasts more than 35 different rides as well as games and food stands.
“We’re really excited about this year’s fair because we think we’ll have more (exhibit) entries and better rides, and we’ll have more animals at the fair this year.”
Another new feature is the Star Family Circus, which is scheduled to perform nightly. It will include an array of aerial and other acts. Two shows each night are set for next week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when the fair gets under way, to be joined by an afternoon show and two nightly shows on Saturday and a pair of performances on Sunday.
Senior Fun Day at the Fair is planned from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, the event’s opening day, for those 55 and older, who’ll not have to pay admission or parking fees. The Dennis Tolbert Band will perform at the park grandstand, and prize giveaways, refreshments and other amenities are to be part of the gathering. A special guest will be Bob from the 109 U-Pull-It television commercials.
Gates open for regular fair-goers at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 10.
A special needs/kindergarten day is planned on Sept. 11, when gates open at 11 a.m. and rides begin at 4 p.m.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. on Sept. 12, and 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 13-14.
Fireworks are planned every night during the five-day fair.
Bingo games, operating under a 50/50 format by the local American Legion Ladies Auxiliary also are scheduled each day of the fair in front of the grandstand, with proceeds to aid community projects of veterans.
A petting zoo with animals such as sheep and goats will be continued this year.
The general admission cost to the fair is $6 for adults, which will include entertainment such as the Star Family Circus performances.
Ride tickets can be bought separately, or attendees may opt for $20 armbands covering unlimited rides. Coupons for $5 off that price are available at local businesses or can be downloaded from the fair’s website, according to Thorpe. The site’s address is http://surrycountyagfair.org, where a variety of information can be found about the event.
The general admission cost for children ages 4 to 10 will be $3 and those 3 and under will get in free with a paying adult.
General admission for seniors (62 and over) will cost $3 with proper identification, which does not include rides.
An opening night special will accompany the first day of the fair on Sept. 10. It will allow a carload of people to be admitted for $25, to include parking, gate admission, entertainment and unlimited ride armbands.
“This would save them at least $100 on their rides,” Thorpe said of what a family might expect to pay otherwise.
Thorpe also highlighted an increased emphasis on agricultural, educational and commercial exhibits by putting out the call for entries.
“We need exhibits,” the fair official said of farm and other animal-related entries along with educational and general exhibits.
Among the numerous exhibit categories are field crops; small animals and fowl; live flowers; horticulture; decorated pumpkins, apples and potatoes; needlework; arts and crafts; baked goods; dried foods; and more.
A complete list of categories is available on the fair website.
Organizers are hoping for a boost in exhibits this year, Thorpe said.
Exhibits can be taken to the fairgrounds on Monday and Tuesday of next week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “They’ll be someone at the (park) office to help them get checked in,” Thorpe said. Entry forms also can be mailed to P.O. Box 6357, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.
The judging of exhibits will occur on Sept. 10.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.