• 46°

Virginia’s agricultural heritage highlighted at fair

Virginia’s agricultural heritage has always been at the heart of the State Fair of Virginia, and agricultural activities continue this year with a long list of farm-related attractions.

As Virginia’s first and third largest private industries, agriculture and forestry will be celebrated throughout the 10 days of the State Fair.

Live animal exhibits and competitions, culinary and creative arts contests and interactive agricultural displays will offer an immersive and educational experience for fairgoers of all ages. The fair will be held Sept. 24 through Oct. 3 at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.

Youth are preparing for livestock competitions by getting their goats, sheep, cattle and swine show-ready for the annual State Fair scholarship event. Fairgoers are encouraged to visit the Sale of Champions on the second Saturday. Agriscience, forestry, crops and farm equipment competitions are among other 4-H and FFA events.

Families can enhance their knowledge of Virginia agriculture in the Meadow Pavilion, which showcases multiple organizations representing the state’s farm products, from the soybeans used to produce crayons to the bees that make honey. Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which owns the State Fair, will host an educational display in the pavilion. Fairgoers can sit in the Farm Tour Tractor Cab to virtually explore a chicken house or chop feed corn. They also can visit the interactive Farm Product Kiosk to learn about popular farm commodities.

There also will be agricultural programming in the family-focused Harvest Landing area, including Young MacDonald’s Farm “with the always-popular sliding ducks, hatching chicks, plus pigs, roosters and the new, bigger, better Goat Mountain,” Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director, said.

The SouthLand Dairy Farmer Center will house hand-milking demonstrations and the Dairy Cow Birthing Center. A pigeon and dove tent will showcase more than 300 breeds of pigeons, and guests can learn about the birds’ homing abilities, history and other fascinating facts. And the natural resources area will include special programs exploring Virginia’s aquatic species, reptiles and raptors.

Heritage Village exhibits can transport fairgoers to a century gone-by, with antique tractors, steam engines, tools and children’s toys. Live demonstrations will feature trades of past centuries, with a blacksmith, glass blower, violin maker, banjo maker and wool spinner.

The creative and culinary arts competitions will exhibit basketry, needlework and homemade cakes and pies created by youth and adult competitors. Creative arts entries are due Aug. 27, and culinary entries are due Sept. 3. Contest rules and sign-up details can be found at StateFairVa.org.

Fairgoers also will find returning favorites like Rosaire’s Racing Pigs and Youth Mutton Bustin’, and two nights of professional rodeo presented by Revenge Roughstock Company, featuring action-packed barrel racing and bronc- and bull-riding.

Online ticket sales begin Sept. 1. Visit StateFairVa.org to purchase tickets and to view details of the fair schedule, concert series and free entertainment.