State Fair of Virginia is a family tradition for many in region
BY PORTSIA SMITH
Sept 29, 2012
A little rain didn’t put a damper on the State Fair of Virginia’s opening day yesterday.
Fairgoers from across the state—and even outside the state—made their way to Caroline County’s Meadow Event Park Friday to indulge in fair food, midway rides and other blue-ribbon attractions.
“It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago we were wondering what the plight of the State Fair would be,” said Jeff Dillon, president of the State Fair of Virginia. Dillon spoke at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting just before the gates opened. “It’s been a fast, yet absolutely unbelievable, ride over the past several months,” he said.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Universal Fairs have come together for the event. The fair runs through Oct. 7.
There was a slight bump at the beginning of the road when long lines at the two will-call gates started to upset guests. New Kent County residents Ted and Vivian Van Holten, who had bought season passes online, waited for nearly 45 minutes before being able to get inside the gates.
“My Farm Bureau membership isn’t even moving me through this line,” Ted Van Holten joked.
After hearing some complaints, fair owner Mark Lovell stepped in and moved people through the line. It was clear within five minutes.
“Sometimes you do things, and they don’t work as well as you want them to, and you regroup and you try again,” he said.
Lovell, president of the Tennessee-based Universal Fairs, bought the 331-acre State Fair of Virginia property in Caroline this spring with a winning bid of $5.35 million.
“I’d like to see the State Fair of Virginia be one of the top 25 fairs in the country,” he said. “I’d like to see half a million people come, and I think that will happen eventually.”
Mechanicsville residents Louis Smith and Jessica Combs were there to check out the shows, races and exhibits. Sandy McCrickland of Wanchese, N.C., and her husband, Ken, celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary at the fair with their daughter and grandchildren, who live in Henrico County.
“We’ve celebrated our anniversary at the State Fair of Virginia for at least the past 20 years,” she said. “The grandkids love it, and it was fun.” She said she didn’t notice much difference this year, other than it seemed “a little bit smaller.”
Kathy Fuller, a Texas resident visiting family in Spotsylvania County, said she liked the agricultural displays. She won a 2013 Almanac for correctly answering a question about cattle. Some of the blue-ribbon-winning exhibits included a 200-pound watermelon, grown in Hanover County.
Three-year-old Landon Spradlin of Albemarle County found a puddle to splash in by the goats at the Young MacDonald’s Farm area.
“We knew that there was a chance for rain today, but we came anyway,” said Landon’s father, Mike. “Anytime you do something like this, the rain is a burden, but we just find a tent to go under. He can sit here and look at the [birthing] ducks for two hours.”
Season-ticket-holder Diane Leonard of Glen Allen said coming to the fair is a family tradition.
“My parents used to take me every year. I took my kids every year, and tomorrow I’m bringing my kids and my grandkids,” she said, while eating a sample of yogurt.
Donald Thurston of Richmond said last night’s Foghat concert was going to be nostalgic for him. He attended one of their concerts more than 40 years ago, when he was 17 years old.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Foghat again and the Italian sausages,” he said.