The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Agricultural fair helps keep county in touch with roots
BY LIANA BAYNE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Twelve-year-old Amber Beasley is excited to show off her three sheep and cow at the Caroline County Agricultural Fair.
The rising eighth-grader at Spotsylvania Middle School is one of many 4–H students who have brought cows, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks to display at the fair, which started Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
Amber also entered her sheep’s pen into the “best decorated” contest. On Wednesday night, she was enthusiastically asking passers-by to vote for her pen. She’ll be showing her calf, Sophia, at the cattle show Saturday.
“It’s such a great fair,” she said. “You can actually get to know how much kids put forth at their farms, and what a real country fair is like.”
Indeed, the fair stays true to its roots of agriculture with plenty of livestock and farm machinery, as well as new exhibits that show how modern farms incorporate technology.
Jennifer and Wil Caton, along with their children, Morgan and Brody, are newcomers to the fair. They own and run Bar C Ranch in Berryville and since 1998, have traveled to libraries, fairs and other events with the menagerie of animals in their mobile petting zoo.
For the first time at the Caroline fair, Wil is offering camel rides, while Jennifer and the children will run the petting zoo.
The zoo features a donkey, a camel, some goats and sheep, rabbits, a porcupine and a 65-pound African spurred tortoise, among others. It also has a display of animals that can be seen but not touched, such as snakes and cockroaches.
“We try to bring something for everybody,” Jennifer said. “Everyone leaves having learned something.”
Animals aren’t the only things fairgoers can interact with. There’s also an antique tractor and truck competition featuring farm vehicles dating back to 1939. Many of the vehicles are still used daily on farms.
Robin Hall, the organizer of the competitions, said they give people an opportunity to see what tractors used to be like.
Fair visitors can also get a glimpse of the future at a mobile museum sponsored by agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto. The exhibit, contained in its own air-conditioned tractor–trailer, shows the challenges farmers will face as the world’s population grows, the life of the typical farmer and the technology farms are using to increase their production.
Tour guide Emily Hoffman said she hopes people take away a little more appreciation of where their food comes from.
The Caroline County fair is the only Virginia location the rolling Monsanto exhibit will visit this summer.
This year’s Caroline fair is the fourth at its current location on County Fair Lane, next to the Virginia Sports Complex off Jefferson Davis Highway. Children 10 and younger get in for free; admission is $5 each for everyone else.
In addition to the livestock and exhibits, the fair offers classic rides such as the Ferris wheel, live music, pig races and corn-shucking and watermelon-eating contests.
Mark Schon and Robin Wieinhold of the Alps community in Caroline, took their 2-year-old grandson, Callum Mundy of Ladysmith, out to the fair’s opening night.
“We like running into people we know and socializing,” Wieinhold said.
Schon said he likes the live music and the family-friendly environment. The couple weren’t concerned about letting their grandson explore and play with other children.
“It’s a good, safe place for kids,” Schon said. “Especially if people want to get away from the city.”
Liana Bayne: 540/374-5444
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Caroline County
WHEN: 4 p.m.–11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: 8332 County Fair Lane off U.S. 1
COST: Free for kids 10 and younger, $5 for ages 11 and older
ON THE WEB: For more info and a full schedule of events, carolinefair.com/index.html