ALBEMARLE — Stanly County’s American Legion Post 76 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Legion with the 85th installation of the Stanly County Fair. This year’s fair, which runs from Tuesday, Sept. 24 through Saturday, Sept. 28, promises to be a memorable one, according to fair manager Cal Massingale.
One unique touch organized by the American Legion for the 2019 fair is the Global War on Terror Wall of Remembrance. Massingale told SCJ that the wall “tells the story of everything that’s happened in the War on Terror since 2001 and has 7,000 names on it honoring all the military personnel that have been killed in that time protecting us.” The Stanly County Fair marks the first time the 120-foot installation has been presented in N.C.
Also in celebration of veterans, the fair is offering free admission for all veterans on Thursday. In addition to the unique veteran-focused events, the fair will include all of the traditional events and attractions that have made it a staple for the county for the past 85 years.
Massingale said Fun Time Amusements will be on site providing midway games that fair-goers can enjoy with their friends and family. The exhibit hall will feature a variety of art, canned goods and clothing along with vendor booths.
The livestock events and exhibitions will feature sheep, goats and cows that will be judged on Saturday in the FFA/4H Animal Show. There will also be about 120 pens with chickens, guineas, rabbits and other smaller animals that will be judged in competition as well. All the entries are from within the county and are meant to highlight the agricultural accomplishments of local farmers.
“There will be a lot of farm equipment on display, rides — the animals — because agriculture is one of Stanly County’s largest income sources, so we try to promote that as well as we can during the fair,” said Massingale.
Another popular competition that will take place is judging various crops that are in season. The largest pumpkin and largest watermelon especially grab attendees’ attention according to Massingale. This year he says they have an entry for a 55-pound watermelon, which he says is unique. Asked if they will eat it after the show, Massingale said, “We’re certainly going to try!”
Other attractions include live musical entertainment every night, a Lego competition and greased pig catching competition for the kids. The fair opened Tuesday with a cheerleading competition featuring local high school cheerleading squads along with appearance by the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders and mascot Sir Purr.
Although fair attendance across the country has decreased due to declining interest among a tech-focused generation, according to Massingale, they are hopeful to buck this trend and increase their numbers from the 6,500 attendees they got last year, to around 10,000 this year.
Revenue from the fair helps to offset the cost of putting on the fair, and it also helps raise money for the American Legion. Massingale said the American Legion uses their money to fund a Boy Scout and a Cub Scout troop, as well as an American Legion baseball team. They also help veterans in need financially with groceries, rent, medical bills and other basics.
The fair will be held at 24302 South Business 52 in Albemarle from Tuesday, Sept. 24th through Saturday, Sept. 28th. During the week, the hours will be from 5 to 10 p.m., on Friday they will be from 5 to 11 p.m., and on Saturday gates are open from noon until 11 p.m.