Those who just can’t wait for the annual Surry County Agricultural Fair to roll around are in for a treat this year — the event is coming to town about a month early, beginning next week.
The fair, now in its 65th year, will start Tuesday and continue through Sept. 1 at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street.
Normally a late-September event, organizers say the fair is being held earlier this year due to the scheduling availability of Inners Shows. It is a Franklinton-based company that has supplied midway rides and entertainment at the local event for several years.
But the time change is expected to bring a bonus for fair-goers, according to Katherine Thorpe, who helps arrange the event along with her husband, Fair Manager Michael Thorpe.
“We’ve been promised to have more rides,” she said of the 2012 event. Some 22 different rides are expected, up from last year’s array.
A new giant Ferris wheel bought recently by Inners Shows could be one of them, although it is not known whether that ride will arrive from the factory by next week. “If they get it delivered, they’ll have it here,” Thorpe said.
One eagerly anticipated addition to this year’s fair will be Vicenta’s White Tigers, an act featuring a trainer and six Bengal tigers named Spirit, Fiona, Kia, Mikayla, Mohan and Taurus.
Vicenta, their trainer, who comes from a long line of circus performers, raised each of the tigers from the age of 14 months and developed her act with the help of her grandfather and father.
Two white tiger shows are scheduled during each day of the fair, with times tentatively set for 6 and 8 p.m.
Entrance to a show will be included in the gate-admission charge.
“We’ll have fireworks nightly and a bicycle giveaway nightly,” Thorpe said, adding that a scavenger hunt for kids also will part of the fair.
Two special observances include:
• Senior Fun Day, scheduled Tuesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m., which is sponsored by the Surry County Senior Center and is free for those in that age group. In addition to regular fair activities, a band will play that day and door prizes will be given away.
• Student Day, also Tuesday, will offer a $2 discount off the cost of an armband that is good for unlimited rides.
The Round Peak Ramblers also will perform at the fair Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Agricultural and other exhibits, including livestock, are to be part of the five-day event as well. Thorpe has said that the arrival of the fair earlier in the growing season should produce a larger variety of exhibits.
Times And Costs
Gates will open Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the official start of the fair, with the rides beginning at 5 p.m.
That schedule is to be observed the rest of the week except for Saturday, when the gates open at noon and the rides get under way at 1 p.m.
Regular fair admission will cost $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 4 to 12. Seniors older than 62 also will be admitted for $3.
While armbands can be bought which allow unlimited rides, individual tickets for rides also will be available, but Thorpe was unsure of the exact costs on Tuesday.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.