State Fair promises family fun

The Inter-Mountain photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell The West Virginia Buildings’s high-hanging quilts show off beautiful materials and careful stitching composed in each competitor’s entry.

Heritage events are high in importance to most West Virginians, and one of these annual premier activities will be staged Aug. 9-18 at Fairlea in Greenbrier County, when the State Fair of West Virginia opens.

School calendars have been made more fair-friendly this year, so children can attend with their families. The official start this Thursday will commence at 11 a.m., but each day thereafter will open at 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. or when concerts conclude.

While a commanding assortment of carnival rides are present on the fairgrounds and a giant ferris wheel dominates the landscape, many would argue that the bulk of the time spent wandering on the grounds is truly an educational experience.

Visitors are invited to the livestock arena to watch youth compete in showmanship categories. The young people must groom their animals and demonstrate skills in presenting them in an orderly manner. It is always exciting to share the celebrations with the winners.

Accompanying this contest are barns full of horses, sheep, cows, goats, rabbits and other common farm animals. One will observe many families walking past these stalls to get a first-hand understanding of how these animals behave. A live calf-birth is not uncommon.

The Inter-Mountain photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell Wildflower exhibits enhance the colorful fairgrounds.

If mom likes arts and crafts, an entire building houses handmade items from all parts of West Virginia making souvenir-buying simple. Prices are reasonable, and you might get some craft ideas that you could try yourself.

Do not ever think you will have a problem with hunger at this fair. They manage to include a full menu of tempting items as you saunter through the exhibits and rides. Some of the more popular tasty treats are big hand-dipped ice cream cones, cinnamon buns, donuts, cured ham sandwiches, roasted corn, apple dumplings or sit-down dinners served by a couple local restaurants who bring their menus to the fairgoers.

Because there are usually hot temperatures throughout the fair, cold drinks are readily available and can be purchased in souvenir plastic cups that are fun to take home.

The grandstand area is a very busy place with horse and buggy racing being held at 5 p.m. this year, with evening concerts lasting past dark. If interested in purchasing tickets before your trip, contact www.statefairofwv.com. A special Sesame Street Live! concert for children will be held at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Every year I attend the fair, I am pleased to see names of Central West Virginia residents winning blue ribbons for their homemade canned pickles, jellies and peaches at the huge foods competition sponsored. Cakes, cookies, breads and fruit pies are also among the entries.

The Inter-Mountain photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell Garden vegetable competitions yield excellent crops from several West Virginia counties.

These items occupy the West Virginia Building, which additionally houses quilting, cross-stitch, rug-making and weaving competitions. Several state government offices have displays here, too, and provide great take-home materials and other useful information.

The West Virginia State Fair is unlike any other event in our Mountain State. Its largeness allows for so much participation by so many of our agencies and educational institutions. It is truly a learning laboratory that can be beneficial and provide enjoyment for the entire family.

When you decide to wrap up the day, besides being tired, you will be West Virginia Proud and an even deeper loyalty will be formed between you and the place you call home.