Stanly County fair gets under way

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2012

ALBEMARLE — The 78th annual Stanly Regional Agricultural Fair is under way this week.
Gates open at 5 p.m on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
For many visitors and workers, the sights, sounds and smell of food are the biggest draws. For livestock handlers Joe and Ellen Mabry, it is all about seeing the “fruits of their labor.”
“We have been working and helping with youth and their livestock at the fair for 22 years now,” said Ellen. “We enjoy working with the kids and seeing them get their ribbons after all the hard work they put into raising and caring for their animals.”
Their work has shown, too. During their time, they have helped to raised and sent one grand champion and four reserve champion sheep to the state fair. But, as Joe points out, awards may be nice, but the top priority is for everyone to learn something.
“It is educational for both the kids working with the animals, and the many people who are coming to the fair, seeing these animals for the first time. Many kids who come out with their parents are just seeing (livestock) up close for the first time. Some small kids think sheep and cows come from eggs, like chickens. And we have to tell them, ‘no they don’t.’”
Aside from the livestock, there is plenty more to see, do and taste. From the displays of award winning crops and jellies, art and crafts, to rides and entertainment, there is something for everyone.  
“The best things I really like are the rides and the demolition derby,” said Fair secretary Pat Bowers. “It is a fun, clean, family event. And nostalgic. I have and others have a lot of fond memories. And it shows a little bit of our past.”
Bowers, who has been with the fair for 31 years, recalls the most memorable moment was after Hurricane Hugo came through.
“We had just moved to our present location in 1989. Then Hugo came through before the fair started. We didn’t know what to expect. But that Saturday, we were packed. People just wanted to get away and forget about the destruction and cleanup for a little while.”
Though the fair has sometimes served as a way for people to relax and forget about things for a while, many are experiencing it for the first time.
“I like it. This is my first year out here,” said Mary Taylor. A resident of Union County, Taylor had a unique reason for coming to this years fair.
“Me and my husband were out on a date and we decided to come out here. I like how they have all the fruits and vegetables laid out with the ribbons that they have won. It’s really interesting. It is good to know that they really still grow this stuff.”
For others, it has become family tradition.
“We have been coming up here for about 30 years now,” said Ricky Bailey. “I brought my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson out with me tonight. It’s more for the young ones than anything. It’s a family thing. Plus, I like the cotton candy and the candy apples.”
For the Mabry’s, family takes a new meaning with the arrival of the  “second generation.”
“Were starting to see many of the youth that we helped years ago come back as adults, bringing their children with them and getting them introduced into livestock and farming,” said Joe. “It’s the culmination of the fruits of your labors.”
The fair, located at 23402 US Hwy 52 South Business in Albemarle, will continue now through September 29th. Tickets are $6 for ages 12 an older, $3 for kids 5-11, and 4 and under in free. Friday the 28th is college night. All college students get in free with ID. For questions or information, call 704-983-2913.