4-H educator: Allegany County Fair & AG Expo a 'family vacation for the week'

·3 min read

Jul. 14—CUMBERLAND, Md. — Lacie Ashby talked of an 1869 publication for the first fair of the Agricultural and Mechanical Society of Allegany County, West Virginia and Pennsylvania that included rules and regulations for the event, which was held in November that year.

The document listed entries at the fair, including coal and iron ore as commodities, she said, and $10 premiums for herds, which consisted of one bull and four cows or heifers, for breeds that included the Alderney.

Ashby, a 4-H educator for the University of Maryland Extension in Allegany County, researched the breed and learned it is now extinct.

"It's really, really interesting," Ashby said. "Agriculture has evolved so much over the years."

The latest in agriculture will be on display at the Allegany County Fair & AG Expo from July 15 to 23.

According to Maryland State Archives, agriculture "is the largest commercial industry in Maryland, employing some 350,000 people, including nearly 6,000 full-time farmers, and contributing some $8.25 billion annually to the economy."

Agriculture also remains the largest single-land use in Maryland, with 2 million acres, or roughly 32%, of total land used for farming last year.

The fair will feature local 4-H exhibits and competitions that include swine showmanship and judging, a rabbit "skillathon," and livestock evaluation contest.

The Allegany County Fair & Ag Expo is "a family vacation for the week," Ashby said.

The local fair provides education about the "five F's," she said of farming, food, flowers, fabric and forestry, which are part of the agricultural industry.

"There's such a large population in the U.S. that's disconnected from agriculture," Ashby said of folks who aren't aware items including their food and textiles originated with a farmer prior to the grocery store or online market. "Most people don't realize where their pillow case came from."

'A big family reunion'

Kevin Kamauf, events coordinator and manager at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, talked of attractions at this year's fair, which will also include a baked goods auction, 4-cylinder and minivan demolition derby, rides, antique tractor parade, mud bog and tractor, truck and semi-truck pull.

"Of course it's free admission again for the second year in a row ... sponsored by the Allegany County commissioners," he said. "Parking is free below the railroad tracks."

Like last year when fair attendance "was way up," Kamauf expects big crowds next week as long as the weather cooperates.

The fair has always been centered around agriculture, which is enhanced by entertainment, food vendors and rides, he said.

"I've been managing the fair since 2001 but I've been at the fairgrounds my entire life," Kamauf said and added his grandparents were caretakers of the fairgrounds from 1936 to 1976.

The annual fair "is like a big family reunion," Kamauf said.

Some of the vendors have participated in the Allegany County fair for 40 years, he said.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary as carnival operator for the Allegany County Fair & Ag Expo, Reithoffer Shows for the first time brought its Rampage Coaster, the third largest traveling coaster in the country.

"It's quite impressive," Kamauf said. "I'm definitely gonna ride it here. I can't wait."

Entertainment, shows and events

The nightly entertainment lineup includes the Arion Band, The Newsboys with Adam Agee, Get The Lead Out, and Niko Moon.

Tickets for those shows can be purchased via the fair's website at alleganycofair.org/tickets.

A free show will feature The Human Cannonball Daredevils.

A 4-H robotics competition will be held at 5 p.m. July 20.

On July 22, a 6- and 8-cylinder demolition derby will be held at 7:30 p.m., followed by fireworks at 10:30 p.m.

The commercial area of the fairgrounds will be open from 4 to 10:30 p.m. July 18 to 23.

Learn more and see the complete schedule of events at alleganycofair.org.

Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or tmcminn@times-news.com.