Isle of Wight County Fair opens

Published 1:18 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2015

By Alyse Stanley

Staff writer

Get ready for funnel cake, blue ribbons and hay bales dressed like pigs, because the Isle of Wight County fair begins this week.

The fair’s theme, “Boots and Roots,” was chosen to honor the mix of rural and sub-urban communities in Isle of Wight County, according to County Fair Chairman Danny Byrum.

The Isle of Wight County fair begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 20. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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Admission costs $10 on Thursday, and $8 throughout the other days of the fair. Children under the age of five get in free. Thursday is Carload Night, where guests can pay $40 per car (up to eight people per vehicle) to receive admission and “all you can ride” wristbands.

Additional special rates include $1 admission for senior citizens and elementary school children on Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Two-day and three-day passes are available online for $14 and $20 respectively, though they cannot be used for Thursday.


With two stages, three nights, and nearly a dozen different bands, the Fair has included a show for nearly everyone.

Friday night pays homage to ‘80s nostalgia. At 9 p.m., Hotel California, an Eagles tribute band, takes to the Duke Automotive Stage to play songs from the classic rock stars.

The country music duo Thompson Square headlines on the Duke Automotive Stage, Saturday at 9 p.m. The Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association honored this multi-platinum married couple in 2012 as the “Vocal Duo of the Year.

Entertainment and Eats

Heritage Park will receive a midway makeover for Friday, Saturday and Sunday with carnival rides for the whole family.

Crowds can catch the Tangled Threads strolling through the fair several periodically, dazzling the crowd with stilt-walking and juggling tricks. 

For something a little more daring, the Star Dust Circus and Thrill Show features motorcycle dare devils, a giant space needle, gravity-defying aerialists and performing dogs to name a few.

The Birdman, one of the top 10 free-flight bird shows in the country, will also be performing multiple times a day.  As trained condors entertain the audience overhead, he educates onlookers about birds and the importance of conservation.

Also open all day are monster truck rides, camel and pony rides, garden displays and a petting zoo. On Sunday,

And what’s a fair without food. Two dozen venders, most of them local, will be selling all the funnel cake, turkey legs, ice cream and popcorn fairgoers can eat.


Of course, some fairgoers come for one reason and one reason only: to spout their wares, some of which have taken all year to perfect, so that they can walk home with a pretty blue ribbon for their mantle.

Championship bull riding begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, but continues throughout the weekend. On Sunday, the cowboy with the highest average score for the fair will receive a championship belt buckle.

A new addition to this year’s festivity is the “Bronco Busting” competition. Adults can challenge themselves to see who can break-in their horse, or at least stay on it the longest. Tinier tikes can try their luck at the “Mutton Busting” sheep handling competition.

Local horticulture enthusiasts can compete in the annual field and garden competitions. Entries are accepted until noon on Thursday. Every year, the Farm Excellence Award goes to the farm owner whose crops receive the most points.

For the more creative at heart, the county is hosting its first hay bale decorating competition. Entries will line the road from Courthouse Highway to the fair ground for all fairgoers to see.

Livestock competitions for poultry, rabbits, cows and pigeons will take place throughout the weekend, as well as a rooster crowing contest and horse and mule log-pulling competition.

On Sunday, a custom auto show is open to all cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles. Entries must be submitted by 11 a.m. and awards will be presented at 2:30 p.m.

Blue ribbons will also be distributed for winning canned foods, cakes, produce and local artisan creations.


“Boots and Roots” wouldn’t be complete without, well, roots, and Isle of Wight County has fairgoers covered.

As the fair’s first permanent building, the Agriculture Education Center stands as a pillar of the four-day event. Constructed inside a 36-foot grain bin, local businesses, agri-businesses, volunteers and Isle of Wight County staff joined forces to complete the project last year.

The center is home to multiple interactive workstations designed to teach agriculture through gaming. Running continuously throughout the fair, four television screens play footage of agricultural processes. Some examples include planting, harvesting, six local farm operations and livestock birthing.

Other tents include the Livestock Tent, the Heritage Tent and the 4H tent. {/mprestriction}