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Saturday, August 28, 2010

CHESTERFIELD COUNT VA, FAIR (RICHMOND, VA TIMES - DISPATCH_

Credit: MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DISPATCH
Madison Hamilton and her mother Jessi Hamilton enjoy riding Clyde, the camel on opening day of the Chesterfield County Fair.
Animals, circus, rides mark opening of Chesterfield fair
By Zachary Reid TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
August 28, 2010 Chesterfield, Va. --
Knowing a good opportunity when she sees one, Madison Hamilton happily set aside her dream and tried something new yesterday.
With her mother Jessi in tow on opening day of the 97th annual Chesterfield County Fair, 4-year-old Madison climbed atop Clyde and took her first camel ride.
"That was fun," she said moments after fill-in camel walker and Eudora Farms Animal Show manager Randy Keene helped her down.
"She's braver than I am," her mother said.
Smiling wide and chatting up a storm, Madison said the ride was really cool, but she wasn't giving up her true love: "I want a horse," she said.
Full-fledged horses were about the only thing in short supply as the fair opened yesterday. It will run through Sept. 4 at the fairgrounds on Courthouse Road.
The fair features fun and excitement old and new. There's the usual midway full of rides and tents packed with farm animals. Spicing it up this year are the Eudora Farms traveling collection of exotic animals and the Star Family Circus and Thrill Show.
The circus drew a standing-room-only crowd for its first show, with the Lovely Miss Streya handing out balloons to children and Oscar "King of the Sky" Garcia cheating death on the Space Wheel, among other acts.
"It just scares me looking at it," Stella Mayton said as she watched Garcia walk the outer edge of the wheel as it spun far above the ground. Her granddaughter, Kaydie VanLandingham, kept watch as Garcia played jump rope with a bullwhip inside the wheel.
"But I can't help but watch," Mayton said.
John and Patsy Johnson of Chesterfield were the first people in the gates when the fair opened at 4 p.m. They didn't have a particular sight in mind but they weren't about to miss a minute of action.
"We've been coming for years," said John Johnson. "We used to come for the rides, but we kind of got out of the riding stage once we passed 60. Now we're just looking around."
For the sheer fun of just looking, the exotic animal farm seemed to be the destination of choice.
Its collection of 55 creatures included a baby zebra, a yak named Zack and furry critters of many sizes.
The most playful of the group was Harley, an African Serval cat.
"It's just like a big ol' housecat," said Keene's son, Tommy, a former bullrider. "If you're not careful in there, he'll take a swipe. He just likes to play."

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