Story by Victoria Kidd, photo by Jennifer Lee
There’s a time of the year when the summer solstice has passed and the days start to get shorter. Each August promises one more month of summer indulgences before September bridges the season’s retreat with the advance of autumn. Essentially, it’s a perfect time to enjoy the Clarke County Fair at the Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds in Berryville, Virginia, August 10-16.
This year marks the 60th annual Clarke County Fair, and the Ruritan Club has been hard at work to make this a year to remember. The club is a service organization that participates in a number of community service projects each year. They are most widely recognized as the presenters of the annual fair, a weeklong celebration of the county’s rich heritage.
The club spends significant effort planning and preparing for fair week. Their event webpage expresses their desire to “give back” by presenting this event year after year for the enjoyment of county residents and neighboring friends. This year’s event, scheduled August 10–16, includes some long-standing favorites and exciting entertainment.
The opening ceremony takes place Sunday the 10th—a busy and lively day at the fairgrounds, as livestock owners ready their cows, sheep, goats, and hogs for exhibition. The day concludes with the Junior Miss Clarke County Fair Contest and the Miss Clarke County Fair Scholarship Pageant.
Monday brings an opportunity to enjoy the legendary beef and chicken barbecue (complete with sauce prepared by the Ruritan Club) that locals wait for all year. Once attendees have satisfied their cravings, they can head over to the area where R.C. Cole Shows operates carnival rides to excite the thrill seekers among the crowd.
For some, Tuesday may bring a cotton candy hangover. For others, the day will be filled with livestock judging, more barbecue, the King BMX Sports Stunt Show, and a night of rock & roll, as the HTH Kiss Tribute Band fills the evening with music.
Wednesday is special to both senior citizens and children, as it’s the day when individuals falling within certain age ranges enjoy free admission. Those attending will have the opportunity to enjoy a puppet show at the fairground’s grandstand or the SAWJAC show—an event that is equal parts chainsaw and artistic expression. The Dragon MotorSports Truck and Tractor Pull rounds out evening activities, offering attendees a chance to enjoy an event that could be considered “quintessentially Clarke County.”
All active-duty armed forces personnel and military veterans are invited to enjoy Thursday without admission fees. While the day brings another chance to enjoy the truck and tractor pull, it also affords the opportunity to witness the sheep and goat Olympics and the bunny carrot-eating contest for those who seek the softer side of the fair.
Friday rounds out the weekday happenings with more livestock-related activities, a tractor-driving contest, and a children’s fair day camp. Attendance swells on Friday, with fairgoers flooding in to enjoy the professional bull riding and rodeo event. This beloved event is one of the most exciting of the entire week.
All good things must come to an end, and Saturday, August 16 marks the last day of the fair. The day is truly the crescendo of the weeklong celebration of Clarke County life, as fairgoers get their last taste of carnival treats and excitements before settling in to watch the demolition derbies. Some attendees will spend the day purchasing the animals that were shown throughout the week. Others will take in the sights and sounds before presenting their tickets to see Tyler Farr—a country music singer who has signed with Columbia Records. His debut album includes the popular “Whiskey in My Water” and “Redneck Crazy” songs, which he will assuredly share with the audience.
The close of the fair is always bittersweet. After all, an entire year will pass before fairgoers will have another chance to experience all the week has to offer. Yet, there is something special about the event’s infrequency. Essentially, it is a week that many look forward to every year, even if it marks one of the last chapters of the summer’s tale.
Be sure to include the fair among your August plans, and mark your calendars to enjoy all that the Ruritan Club’s 60th Annual Clarke County Fair has to offer. For information (or to obtain tickets), visit www.clarkecountyfair.org or call 540-955-1947.