Rowan County fair opens Friday, runs through Sept. 27

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Starting Friday, a small tract of land on Julian Road will be packed to its seams, as the Rowan County Fair kicks off its 63rd year.
Gates open on weekdays at 4 p.m. and at 1 p.m. on weekends. The fair runs through Sept. 27.
Inside the gates, fair manager Johnny Love said attendees would find 29 rides, 500 head of livestock, 13 food vendors and almost 70 other exhibitors.
Love said the number of exhibitors is a record for Rowan County’s fair.
It’s also a longer fair than in years past.
The length increase was simply a request from Dreamland Amusements, Love said, but could be a beneficial addition.
“They said we can come in on this date to set up and this is when we’d like to leave he said. “It seems like there is always a chance of rain. This way if it rains on Friday or Saturday or both, there’s another weekend that people can come out.”
About 45,000 people attended last year’s fair, according to Love. The attendance number includes both paid and unpaid attendance.
He said the extra weekend could also add to the total attendance numbers.
Love said some of the more exciting events in 2014’s fair include the lawn mower pull at 8 p.m. on Friday and a motorcycle thrill show at 8 p.m. nightly Monday through Saturday, Sept. 27.
“We have events going on every night down in the arena,” he said. “Between the events, vendors, rides and livestock, it’s going to be a banner year.”
Costs are $7 for general admission, $3 for children younger than 12 and free for children younger than 6. On school days — Sept. 22, 23 and 24 — all children in Rowan County public schools will receive free admission with special tickets and canned food. Rides open at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on the weekends.
Special events include a balloon art and magic show, with two shows nightly at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and three shows on the weekends; a mud bog on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.; back-to-back truck pull on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. and fireworks on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m.
The fairgrounds were abuzz with activity Tuesday as workers and vendors were setting up rides and booths. Trucks hauling rides steadily streamed into the parking lot. Vendors were busy scrubbing off stands and setting up displays. Paint buckets and tools sat inside buildings as workers made final preparations for exhibits and competitions.
Love said planning for the annual fair continues, with some items starting just after rides leave.
“Most people think that the fair drives in, the carnival sets up and it opens,” Love said. “It actually begins right after its over with.”
Randall Barger, who manages the fairgrounds, said work this week included cleaning bars, building new shelving, painting and other cosmetic tasks.
Love said he isn’t excited for any particular ride this year, but rather to meet and talk to attendees.
“The only time I see some of these people is at fair time,” he said. “You watch their kids grow up, and then their kids have kids. You just see generation after generation coming to the fair.”
Counties across the state host annual fairs, but Love said Rowan’s is truly unique.
“Some of the surrounding counties have a beautiful fair and beautiful fairgrounds, but ours is a true county agricultural fair,” he said. “When people come, I hope they feel like it’s a down-home county fair.”
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246