If there is such a thing as a perfect night for a fair, it was Tuesday.
The Patrick County Agricultural Fair opened Tuesday to a large crowd, perfect weather and something for everyone. It will run through Saturday.
“Opening night went very well. There’s a good crowd. Some are waiting in line to get tickets to ride the rides, and the weather is good,” said Henry Ayers, who works to organize the Patrick County Agricultural Fair each year.
He noted that the fair is not limited to Patrick County residents.
“Martinsville and Henry County have a fair, too. It’s just held here at Rotary Field in Stuart,” Ayers said.
There also is something for people of every age, with entertainment scheduled nightly and a different main event planned each night, Ayers said.
Tuesday was Student Night, and a rodeo will be held tonight, he said. Thursday is Senior Citizens night for people aged 60 and older. It also will mark the first 4-H Cattle Show, he said of the new event that will be limited to heifers this year.
Club members “want to grow the cattle show” bigger and better next year and beyond, he said.
“Friday night is the biggie. People better get here early” for the annual demolition derby, Ayers said. New lights have been added in the lower fields, making it more convenient for visitors to find their vehicles when they leave.
A dance contest is planned Saturday for those who flatfoot or clog, Ayers said. There will be first-, second- and third-place winners in three categories: Junior, Adult and Seniors, he said. Live performances also will be featured, including one by the Old Dominion Cloggers.
On Tuesday, many people gathered for the opening ceremony and to be among the first to bring youngsters to ride Go-Gator, Skipper the Dolphin, Wiggle Wurm, Jungle Crawl and other rides. Older students stood in line for a turn on the Rainbow, Catch ‘N Air and other brightly lit rides.
Also open each night are a livestock barn and a small animal facility that was upgraded this year.
Stalls in the livestock barn were filled with several cows and horses with names such as Magic Moon Emmy, an Arabian; Brandy, a quarter horse; and Belle, a racking horse. Also featured were four Shires, a large breed of horses that can weigh up to a ton.
Tickets for a raffle on a black Angus steer donated by the Patrick County Cattleman’s Association also are for sale in the livestock barn.
Housed in the small animal facility were Molly the pig and her five piglets, a couple of turkeys, several goats, chickens, roosters, rabbits and a pot-belly pig owned by Judy Barnard. She explained that the pig is housebroken and as clean as many inside dogs.
Gloria Schwarting of Stuart said the fair is an annual event for her.
“I’m a quilter, so I really like the way they have the” quilts displayed, she said. Schwarting won a third-place white ribbon for the quilt she entered.
Her husband, Henry Schwarting, won two blue ribbons and a red ribbon, she said, adding that he knits and crochets. His blue ribbons were for knitted items — a scarf and an afghan. The red ribbon was for a crocheted seasonal project, she added.
Dot Stone of Patrick Springs attended the fair with her husband, L.B. Stone, and family members Rachel Foley and Cande (pronounced Sandy) Turner.
“We are enjoying the first night of the fair, mainly the food,” Dot Stone said.
There was no shortage of food vendors, whose offerings ranged from the traditional fair fare of hand-dipped ice cream, candy apples, funnel cakes and ribbon fries to pizza, rib-eye steak sandwiches (prepared by the Cattleman’s Association), and fast food items sold by various groups.
Dot Stone said her group planned to attend at least one more night of the fair.
Evelyn Turman of Meadows of Dan said she also plans to attend one more night — maybe two —- along with her daughter, Brianna Turman, 11.
“She loves to come,” Turman said of Brianna, who was on the rides while Turman sat on a bench and watched. “She wants to come to the rodeo.”
Turman said the fair also is a great social event.
“I’ve seen a lot of people tonight that I haven’t seen in years,” she added.