The Calvert County Fair celebrated their 132nd Anniversary this year!
The first fair was held in 1886 in Smithville (now Dunkirk) on the farm of Dr. Talbott. These events included displays of cattle and tobacco. A way for the men to get together socially, horse racing was a popular part of the event.
Moving to Prince Frederick in the 1920s, the fair was held at several sites before finding a home in 1940 on a nine-acre location off Dares Beach Road. The site would later grow to twelve acres and would include several buildings that were used to house cattle, horses and other animals, 4-H and Homemakers exhibits and a large hall. Carnival rides, horse shows and other events were added that would draw people to the fair. This location would be used until the present location in Barstow was established. The date for the fair was originally set to allow crops to be completed, allowing farm families to attend.
An all-volunteer organization, the Calvert County Fair Board, works hard to make each year better than the year before. Their goal is to educate and entertain, while reminding the residents of Calvert County of “our agricultural roots and promoting the importance of the agricultural community.
In the weeks leading up to the fair, you find many volunteers working on the grounds that house exhibits, livestock, entertainment and carnival rides. Volunteers plan competitions like the baby contest, Miss Tranquility and Lord Calvert event and the Calvert County Idol competition.
Monday, September 24, entries began arriving in the Homemakers Building and 4-H Building. Exhibitors entered their projects in various divisions and categories. The fair has something for everyone – with more than 1500 categories to place their homemade items. The list includes 98 categories under livestock; 203 categories under “Tobacco, Grains, and Vegetables,” and more than 1000 categories under the “Homemakers Department.”
Even with a steady rain, exhibitors lined up with their boxes of items they wished to exhibit. The Homemakers Department is open to all adults 18 years of age and older, with a category for seniors, age 55 and older. In the Homemakers Building exhibitors moved from one area to another to place like items into a division and category, filling out paperwork and attaching a tag to each item entered.
The 4-H and Youth Department is open to all youth (both 4-H and non- 4-H) in the five Southern Maryland Counties – Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. The exhibitors must be 6 to 18 years of age as of January 1. The building was busy with youth and their parents carrying drawings, photos, displays, flowers, fruits, sewing and needlework projects and many other items. The 4-H and Youth are grouped by age for their judging.
Tuesday, September 25, entries for baked goods were accepted in the Homemakers Building until 9:30 a.m. Judging began at 10 a.m. Judges are chosen for their expertise in the category. Many of the judges are from out-of-the-county. They spent a long day viewing the various exhibits. Baked goods, jellies, jams and canned goods were sampled. Sewing and needlework projects were examined closely.
One of the newer divisions for judging is “Beer and Wines” with 53 categories. Judges sampled each of the various wines and beers, and viewed the contents for clarity. One of the largest categories was photography. Judges viewed all of the photos by category choosing the top photos in each category.
After the judging was done, the volunteers set up the entries in the buildings. All of the exhibits were carefully displayed so visitors will be able to see the work that was done to create the item. In each category, the judges chose “champions” and “reserve champions.” These items were displayed in special areas. The volunteers worked late into the evening to complete this task.
Jeanette Seidenstricker, Chairperson of the Homemakers Department, said the judging and the displays are two of the most important things the volunteers do before the fair. “Our exhibitors have spent a great deal of time working on their projects. It is our duty to see that they are handled and exhibited properly. We are blessed with amazing volunteers that make this possible.”
Wednesday, September 26, volunteers went through each building checking that everything is in place. That afternoon the fair opened!
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter