Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair
The Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair in Lumberton, North Carolina got back on track in 2017 with a close-to record run according to Vice President of Fair Operations, Dixon Britt. In 2015, the fair was rained out almost completely; they were able to open only a few days. Hurricane Matthew cost the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair two out of their 10 days in 2016. This year, it only rained half the day on the last Saturday of the fair.
Admission into the fair is $7 and there is no fee for parking. All entertainment at the fair is included with admission. While the fair board puts a healthy focus on local entertainment, they also book some great ground acts for fairgoers to enjoy. Vincent Von Duke's lion and tiger show and a hypnotist were some of the favorites at the 2017 fair.
The fair board partners with a local company which brings popular costumed cartoon characters out to the fairgrounds for children to meet and take pictures with. On one of their stages, the fair hosts different themed music nights such as a gospel night, country night, hip-hop night, and hispanic night in partnership with Univision.
For the first time in a while, the fair opened on Thursday night for a kind of "preview night," there was no admission charge. "It was pretty successful and gave people the chance to come out and check out the fair affordably," said Britt. The midway portion of the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair is a joint venture between Wade Shows and Big Rock Amusements.
The Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair is run by a volunteer board of 20+. The fair does not receive state funding but does get a grant which promotes agriculture education in the region. All proceeds from the fair go back into running the next fair and maintain the grounds.
Britt says the fair board's focus in 2017 was to increase attendance and get back to the numbers they had prior to the two hurricane years. Preparations are underway for the 2018 fair; at the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention the fair board hired the Butterfly Encounter and the Mountain Music Stories and Dance show to be part of the entertainment at the 2018 fair.
Rowan County Fair
Johnny Love, the manager of the Rowan County Fair in Salisbury, North Carolina had positive reports about the 2017 fair. A stark contrast to last year's nearly complete washout, there was beautiful weather throughout the fair. This was the Rowan County Fair's second year using Powers and Thomas as their carnival provider.
Entertainment at the 2017 fair included Garcia's Circus, a demolition derby, 4-wheeler motocross, a dinosaur exhibit, and a fireworks display for fairgoers to enjoy. Love also mentioned the fair's enthusiastic "Got to be NC" display as a highlight of the 2017 fair.
This was the second year that the Rowan County Fair was able to utilize their newly built 10,000 square foot building on the grounds. The new building is also rented out year-round; the extra revenue helps with the upkeep of the fairgrounds and the budget for the fair.
Love has been the manager of the Rowan County Fair for eight years. Having been in the industry for a considerable period of time, Love feels that the theme for this year's North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention, "Times Are Changing," has never been more true. "True, county, agricultural fairs seem to be going by the wayside. I find it tougher each year to keep the agricultural aspect alive," says Love.
The 2018 Rowan County Fair will feature three new acts for entertainment as well as a huge livestock show, demolition derby, and motocross. The Rowan County Fair is run by the Rowan County Fair Association and has been in existence for 65 years.
Cleveland County Fair
The Cleveland County Fair in Shelby, North Carolina also had a great 2017 run according to fair manager, Bobby Jenks. The fair has been around for 93 years and Jenks has been the manager for 5. Although newer to the fair manager position, the Jenks family has been in the concessionaire business for decades; Jenks owns a popper, a grab joint, and a funnel cake stand, among other trailers.
Entertainment for the Cleveland County Fair is booked through Bobby McLamb's Artists and Attractions. The Zerbini Family Circus is one of the fair's most popular acts. Jenks is currently finalizing some new entertainment for the 2018 fair including a motorcycle act and some grandstand entertainment including 2 demolition derbies. Most entertainment is free with admission, however, demolition derby shows are an additional ticketed show.
Reithoffer Shows has been the carnival operator at the Cleveland County Fair for 41 years. The orange unit plays the spot and brings about 44 rides. Attendance at the 2017 fair was about 115,000 people which is slightly down from numbers in years past but has been pretty average for the last 4-5 years of the fair.
Lenoir County Fair
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for the Lenoir County Fair. Lloyd Moody, fair manager, says that he is looking forward to working on "re-inventing" their fair. Powers and Thomas will be the new midway provider for the fair; the contract was previously held by Amusements of America who had to give up the spot in order to play the newly acquired Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania. Moody is excited to work with Powers and Thomas and mentioned that their company is highly commended in the industry.
The Lenoir County Fair dates are also shifting. Previously, the fair took place during the 3rd week in September and now will be October 18th-26th, 2018. "We've never had the fair that late in the year and are a little anxious about how it will turn out but excited about some new opportunities," says Moody.
About 10,000 people came to the Lenoir County Fair in 2017 which is down a little from years past. Moody said that a lot of local industry has closed down maybe causing some people to move away or have less money to spend. The fair featured lots of local entertainment in 2017 as well as a demolition derby and dirt bike races.