We are visiting fairs this summer - Larry's semi-retired, so we can travel in the middle of the week, when the crowds are reduced, though as it turns out later, that's not as important as we thought. What's more important is that he's over 65, so he gets senior admission rates every day (sometimes I qualify for them too) and we don't necessarily have to aim specifically for "Senior Day."
Week of July 19, we went to the Washington County Fair - in Boonesboro, in between Hagerstown and Antietam battlefield. About 60 miles, a very pleasant drive, since as interstate slabs go, I-70 is a scenic one. We went on Tuesday, which was Senior Day - free admission for 65+. So it cost us $7 for me to get in; Larry was free and parking was free. Now, the website http://agexpoandfair.org/ had told us that the fair didn't open to the public till noon - lots of 4-H stuff and judging in the mornings, but the public isn't let in for it. And the midway didn't open till 3 p.m. That seemed odd, but off we went. We got there about 11:30, and sure enough, no one at admission. So we spent half an hour in the Museum of Rural Heritage, which was nice. If we go back that way in September to visit Antietam, we might stop and look at a little more of that museum. They had some interesting types of looms, and lots of quilts, and a complete scale model of a farm, a set-up about 10 feet by 20 feet, in the years-long process of being built and improved by a local resident - a re-creation of his family's farm from the 30's. The ladies running the museum were very friendly.
Anyway, finally, at noon, a few guys appeared and opened up the booth in the parking lot that serves as admission, and we went on in. We were able to park right up near the fairground entrance because there was virtually no one there. Well, it being lunchtime, lunch was in order, and there was only ONE place to eat open - none of the midway food, and most of the tents for various organizations were closed up tight, too. The oyster sandwiches from JB Seafood were quite good, but we really would have liked a choice. Extra thumbs-up for JB's: they carried Gold Peak UNSWEETENED iced tea, which is drinkable and most places only carry the sweetened and diet stuff, so yay for unsweetened.
Well, the rest was a let-down; this is pretty much the teeniest fair I have ever been to. Really teeny. Home Arts was pitiful, not even a full table of jellies and canning, ONE quilt and a few beginners' crocheted things, really not much at all. There were some ladies demonstrating weaving; there's a strong heritage of weaving from the German original settlers of the area. The produce was also piffle, very few fruits and veggies. A few awards for decorated baskets of vegetable arrangements, but no decorated gourds or painted potatoes or weird mutant eggplants. The Rabbit and Poultry Barn - which was just a large put-up tent - was more rabbits than poultry, and most of the poultry that was there was plain white turkeys. There was a good assortment of rabbits, though, all nicely labeled; a few families of 4-Hers appear to specialize in them, and had dozens of entries apiece. Lots of Holland Lops and mini-Rexes, some meat rabbits. Anyway, that was the highlight of the livestock; there were a few goats and sheep; a few dairy calves, one cow barn, one small horse barn. One commercial building, and I have to say probably for me, the highlight of the fair was stopping and talking to the agent for Modern Woodmen - if you don't know what a fraternal insurance organization is, then you're in company - most people don't, but I of course do, having worked for the Texas Department of Insurance, and so I chatted with the guy for 15 minutes, and picked up some swag. I did get a tote bag from one of the county agencies that had a table, and a pen from an Allstate agent as well. No special activities or exhibits for seniors, even though it was senior day; they didn't have anybody from a county agency for the elderly or Social Security or Medicare or even anybody trying to sell Medicare Advantage health plans. Which is probably because they knew no one would be there; there were exactly TWO other seniors wandering around the whole fair. What, nobody over 65 in Hagerstown is looking for something free to do??? Anyway, in an hour and a half, we had done absolutely everything the fair had to offer, and didn't feel like waiting around another hour or so doing nothing until the opening of the midway. So we left, and drove over to the outlet mall in Hagerstown to shop for shoes. Overall? Not worth the price of admission. We were disappointed that a rural county such as Washington didn't have more to offer.