The Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair kicked off its 276th year Friday evening with cloudless skies, a mild breeze and crowds of families enjoying the festivities and weather.
The event, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 3, brought residents and vendors to the fairgrounds off State Route 2 with familiar staples and the return of an acrobatic family.
Jeff Newton, a Stafford County native volunteering at the fair, said the annual event always been a summer highlight for busy families.
“It brings people out that generally don’t go out,” he said.
As the Miss Fredericksburg Fair Pageant determined the next winner on the fairway stage, families and cowboys filled every bleacher and space surrounding the motor sports park, where Gordonsville-based BLM Bull and Rodeo Co. showcased some of the region’s best bull riders.
BLM emcees Jonathan Key and Daniel Lanier kept crowds cheering as they gave colorful descriptions of the various riders, who were tasked with lasting at least eight seconds on their bulls with one hand in the air.
Roger and Barbara Randall of Fredericksburg had never been to the fair together but came out Friday at the urging of their daughter.
“Our daughter convinced us to come because we love watching bull riders on TV,” Roger Randall said. “I think it’s wonderful seeing it in person.”
The Patel family of Spotsylvania County also enjoyed BLM’s show, but it was just part of an annual ritual for them.
“It’s really fun to see how things change each year,” Rajesh Patel said.
His daughter, Richa, said that the petting zoo and rides provided by Deggeller Attractions are easily her favorite part.
This year also saw the return of Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations, the family of circus performers and aerial artists from Sarasota, Fla. On their stage near the livestock building, the family—which was part of the 2012 fair—performed various acts designed to thrill and please the crowd.
While Shane Hansen’s juggling of pins, rings, tennis rackets and flaming torches kept onlookers intrigued, and Alecia Hansen’s aerial artistry stoked their adrenaline, daughters Olivia, Madison and Ella captured the audience’s hearts with their bright smiles and sparkling costumes.
Opening night at the fair had its bumps. Revised event times were scrawled on posters and large pieces of paper as organizers struggled to stay on schedule.
Travis Bullock, the fair’s general manager, said the first weekend’s event times will be subject to change—as stated in the fair’s pamphlet—but that things should smooth out by Monday.
The tentative event times didn’t diminish the overall enjoyment for first-time fairgoer Nicole Manning of Woodbridge, who said she and Fredericksburg native Mason Wilson just “had to go” to the fair.
“It’s good for people in the community and shows what Fredericksburg has to offer,” she said. “Everyone loves funnel cake and cows.”
Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5403
ABOUT THE FAIR
This year’s fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 3. Gates are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and noon until 10 p.m. Sunday.
Today, those who serve in the military are eligible for one complimentary admission ticket with presentation of valid ID. Otherwise, tickets for ages 4–54 are $8; ages 55 and older are $6. Children 3 and under get in free.
Rides are not included in admission and must be purchased separately. For more information, visit fredericksburgfair.org.