Lots of family fun at the county fair | Wide Awake
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Lots of family fun at the county fair

Posted on August 30, 2021

Wide Awake Wilson
Rides will line the midway at the Wilson County Fair Sept. 21-26. Janelle Clevinger | File photo

Rides will line the midway at the Wilson County Fair Sept. 21-26. Janelle Clevinger | File photo

2021 Wilson County Fair

Sept. 21-26

Wilson County Fairgrounds

2331 U.S. 301 S, Wilson

Gates open at 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; noon Saturday; and 1 p.m. Sunday

Advance gate ($5) & wrist band ($25) tickets on sale until September 20 online and at Piggly Wiggly (Bailey, Elm City and Kenly), Chick-Fil-A (Wilson), Sylvia’s Restaurant (Wilson), Fair Office, Agri Hardware & Supply (Stantonsburg). Tickets can also be purchased at WAWtix.com.

Admission at gate is $7 general admission (kids 5 and under are admitted free). Daily ride wrist band is $25.

Daily entertainment includes Big Rock Amusements carnival rides and games, Lew-E’s Comedy Circus, Circus Incredible and Carolina Helicopter Tours.

For detailed fair information, please visit wilsoncountyfair.org.

WILSON — County fairs have certainly changed since the first American fair was held in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1807 and featured only a small sheep shearing demonstration, but they all have their roots in one thing … agriculture.

“We’re not just carnivals, although some come for that, and we try to do a lot of things to show off field crops and horticultural crops, display a variety of hobbies and provide a place for local talent to perform,” said Allen Faircloth, the current president of the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs.

Faircloth has been in the county fair business for 40 years and serves as president of the Robeson County Fair. He says many young people have forgotten the roots of our country.

“The kids get to visit the livestock and agricultural life of a farmer at a county fair, and it brings back what this country is built upon — agriculture and our dream,” Faircloth said. “We want our youth to see ‘the dream.’”

The Wilson County Fair began in 1933, and a lot has certainly changed in the town that was once known as “The World’s Greatest Tobacco Market.”

Debbie Hill, Wilson County Fair manager, agrees with Faircloth that many young people have lost touch with the importance agriculture plays in our everyday lives.

“Ask a child today where an egg comes from and they will tell you Walmart,” Hill said. “The agricultural side of the fair is definitely diminishing. Going away is the growing of your own produce and saving (canning) it. And how many people make their own clothes these days?”

Still, the main purpose of the fair is to promote agriculture. The Wilson fair’s exhibit rules state that the fair is “to encourage the exhibition of agricultural products and livestock while promoting agri-business in the region.”

This year’s Wilson County Fair will run from Tuesday, Sept. 21, through Sunday, Sept. 26.

It is one of only 28 county fairs remaining statewide. For comparison, 1990 boasted 49 fairs across North Carolina.

There are eight main categories of judged exhibits, with hundreds of sub-categories within them. The fair itself gives away $15,000 in award money (called premiums) in all sub-categories and Best of Show in each of the main categories. The main exhibit categories are Agricultural Field Crops; Horticulture Plants and Flowers; Food Preservation; Prepared Food; Photography and Antiques; Apparel, Textiles and Jewelry; Home Furnishings; Arts and Crafts. Youth and 4-H members can submit entries to their own division, which includes all the main and sub-categories as the adult contests.

Find a complete listing of all exhibits, rules and deadlines on the fair’s website at wilsoncountyfair.org.

A favorite event at the fair each year is the auctioning off of all entries in the baked goods division. This year’s auction will be held on Tuesday, Sept 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the fairgrounds C shelter. All proceeds from the sales of breads, muffins, cookies, candies, cakes and pies go to the Wilson Crisis Center.


Fair organizers across the state know that not everyone visits a fair to see livestock or see the largest watermelon in the county. Many come for the carnival aspect of it.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘This is the closest my family will ever get to Disney World,’” Faircloth said. “A lot of our counties are poor, and we can bring in these rides and attractions for families.”

Hill is excited to have Big Rock Amusements providing the rides once again for children and adults at this year’s Wilson County Fair.

“I can guarantee it’s the best amusement company out there,” Hill said. “We have been using them since 2014.”

Carnival rides require the purchase of separate tickets in addition to the general gate admission, but the gate admission includes performances by Lew-E’s Comedy Circus, Circus Incredible, which features seventh and eighth generations of the famous Great Flying Wallendas — and entry into all exhibit halls.

On Wednesday evening, a general admission ticket will also include entrance to a tractor pull. Smaller than a nine-class pull, this competition will have four classes.

Returning to the fair this year is family favorite It’s A Zoo Life, the exotic animal petting zoo. The family-owned zoo will bring several of its animals every day for public viewing and is included in the general admission cost.

A complete schedule of daily fair events, ticket options, and attractions can be found at wilsoncountyfair.org.

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