The 64th annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair came to a close Saturday night as volunteers dismantled rides, cleaned up the barns, closed up stands and said goodbye to one another until next summer.
The county fair held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds saw an estimated 220,000 guests, about the same number as last year, according to Martin Svcrek, the executive director of the Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc. Great weather conditions welcomed festival-goers throughout most of the week, except for a few rainstorms and a power outage.
Running the fair required many volunteers, an estimated 2,000 to 2,400 volunteer hours, according to Gerda Sherwood from Laytonsville, herself a volunteer at the Dairy Barn. Sherwood said the fairgrounds only have 10 paid employees during the fair, the rest being all volunteers.
To show off Montgomery County’s agricultural accomplishments, stables, pens and coops full of animals from pigs and cows to chicken and rabbits were displayed for guests to view and, in some cases, to purchase. Children had the opportunity to ride ponies or camels and there was also an exhibit devoted to the animals of Australia.
“There’s so many different types of animals,” Erik Agard, of Gaithersburg, said. “They’re all so cuddly and warm and fuzzy. I just want to buy them all and take them home with me.”
For those less interested in animals, carnival rides and games were set up alongside vendors selling a variety of foods and beverages. Other booths were also set up, some promoting county services such as the fire department and the police, some campaigning for the upcoming elections and some selling anything from hats and sunglasses to cell phone plans and air conditioning units.
“I’m more of a food and rides girl rather than the animals, so obviously I enjoyed some lemonade and deep fried Oreos,” Meghan O’Lone, of Potomac, said. “My favorite ride ever is the swings. I love them so much I bought a wristband just so I could go on them like 10 times.”
Those working at the fair have had to put in many hours, but they all agree volunteering at the fair is a great opportunity to meet other people and to build connections with other members of the community.
“Days are gorgeous and everybody’s friendly here,” Aaron Wyant, a volunteer at the KidZone said. “I’ve been friends with some of these people for 10 or so years. They’re lifelong friendships. Out of all the counties in the state, this is probably one of the most anticipated county fairs and I’m just happy to be here. There’s so much to do here and it’s fun for all ages.”
The county fair will run again next year with even more attractions, Svcrek said. Until next summer, festival-goers and workers will have the memories and friends they have made in the past week as they celebrated their community and its accomplishments.
“It’s been fun,” Tom Rowse, of Gaithersburg, a volunteer at the Dairy Barn, said. “This whole fair is about service organization and faith-based organizations coming together to benefit the community.”
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the estimated attendance numbers for this year's Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. We regret the error.