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Hamilton County Fair Expands Offerings After Successful First Year at McDonald Farm

Hamilton County Fair Expands Offerings After Successful First Year at McDonald Farm
Hamilton County Fair Expands Offerings After Successful First Year at McDonald Farm

Note: This story has been updated to correct the date of the Hamilton County Fair.

The Hamilton County Fair returns to McDonald Farm this Veterans Day weekend with more live music, two days of rodeo action and more opportunities to learn about agriculture.

The dream of moving the 2023 fair to Sale Creek was ambitious, Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp said Tuesday during a news conference at the farm, but he and a group of county officials and fair organizers called it a huge success.

“Forty thousand people later on a weekend in November — we did it,” Wamp said of last year’s fair. “We overcame some traffic issues and had perfect weather. And so we’re back, as we said we would, to do it again, and it’s going to be even better.”

After the rodeo on Friday night, Wamp said, the pop-rock band Sister Hazel will perform. On Saturday night, local country musician Brandon Davis will open for Larry Fleet, who Wamp said is a country artist with a loyal following.

CARDS

Tickets for the fair went on sale Tuesday morning, said Karen Shostak, deputy director of Parks and Recreation for the county, at the fair’s kickoff. She thanked the fair’s sponsors for helping keep admission affordable and the children’s attractions free.

“We have more concerts, more vendors, more crafts, more blue ribbon options, more seating, lower ticket prices. Basically, it’s more fun for the whole family,” she said. “More than even last year — so we’re excited about that.”

Big Woody’s Lumberjack Shows are also returning this year, Shostak said, and there will be a fireworks show on Sunday evening.

The fair will take place from November 8 to 10. Tickets for the weekend are $13 in advance and $15 at the door.

Children ages 11-17 are $6, she said, and children 10 and under are free. Adult day tickets are $8, and there are $6 discounted tickets for seniors, active military, veterans, first responders and teachers.

Parking is free.

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AGRICULTURE

Ranita “Shorty” Beaty, the fair’s agricultural expert, said farmers and ranchers will be on hand at the fair, with cows, donkeys, pigs, alpacas and sheep. McDonald Farm’s petting zoo will also be open, featuring Murray the donkey, and several local farming clubs will give demonstrations on poultry, farming, soil health and blacksmithing.

“Our goal is of course to inform visitors to the fair about the origins of their food, fibers, clothing and fuel,” she said during the opening speech about the fair’s agricultural activities.

(READ MORE: Questions raised over McDonald Farm development’s impact on area’s wildlife)

Beaty said the farm’s Harvest Barn will host several agricultural events throughout the weekend, accompanied by live bluegrass music.

On Sunday there will be a horse parade, she said, and there will be several produce and craft contests that Hamilton County residents can participate in.

The 2,100-acre McDonald Farm was purchased by the province in 2021 for $16 million.

Previously, the Hamilton County Fair was held at Hixson’s Chester Frost Park, though the fair was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. The fair was originally scheduled for McDonald Farm in 2022, but the possibility of high winds and heavy rain forced its cancellation.

TRAFFIC

Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett said last year’s fair was a huge success, but there were frequent complaints about traffic jams. For the Saturday of last year’s fair, his office made some changes that helped traffic flow more smoothly, he said, and his office will improve that this year.

(READ MORE: Park offers access to Sale Creek farm grounds)

“You can get to the fair quickly, we don’t want you to wait any longer than you have to,” Garrett said. “We want you to come here and have fun with your family.”

HONOR TO VETERANS

Davis addressed the crowd at the fair’s opening, saying he was honored to be a part of the fair and to be able to play music in a family-friendly environment during Veterans Day weekend.

“We are the ones who are blessed with great men and women who fight for us every day,” he said. “And I feel honored to be able to come to the county fair and be a part of such a special event on a very special weekend.”

Contact Andrew Wilkins at [email protected] or 423-757-6659.