The 64th annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair has a variety of activities—from carnival rides and games to farm animals on display—but guests often need breaks from walking around under the hot, summer sun.
Fortunately, vendors around the fairground provide foods and drinks for people looking to cool down with a snack or to have a meal with family and friends. Guests can enjoy a wide assortment of treats, from pizzas and pretzels to stir-fried Asian cuisine and crab cakes. While many of the vendors sell general fairground food, some smaller vendors specialize in their own unique products.
A favorite of many fairgoers is the kettle corn from Annie’s Addiction, which sells big bags of sweet and crunchy kettle corn to guests from its stand next to the hog races.
“I started it up about five years ago,” Anne Owen, the manager of Annie’s Addiction, said. “My last kid was getting ready to go to college so I needed to occupy myself. I tried kettle corn for the first time at Saratoga Springs in New York and ever since I had it there for the first time, I thought I had to do this myself. It’s good and it’s popular. I give five percent of the proceeds to autism research. My younger brother is a single parent to an autistic teenager and that’s where that came from."
The county fair also allows many community clubs and youth programs to set up their own vendors as a fundraiser. Boy Scout troops sell cold sodas along the streets to thirsty passers-by. For those with a sweet tooth also looking to cool down, the Dairy Barn offers hand-dipped ice cream.
The Dairy Barn’s ice cream shop is run by the county’s Lion’s Clubs, with a different area’s club serving each day, according to Gerda Sherwood, a member of Lion’s Club in Laytonsville and a worker at the Dairy Barn. The money raised goes to each club and funds service projects in their community, with the focus of the Lion’s Club being on helping those with vision and hearing problems, according to Sherwood.
“Our motto is 'We serve,' and we serve ice cream,” Tom Rowse, a Gaithersburg resident and a member of Lion’s Club.
The fair also creates exposure for smaller, local businesses like Boordy Vineyards, a local Maryland winery selling bottles of wine at the fairground.
“It’s great for local business,” Alyssa Olsen from Boordy Vineyards said. “We’re doing it and it’s a very helpful way to do some marketing and to get your name recognized. Traffic comes and goes in spurts, as it always does, but we’ve been doing very well.”
Working at the fair may generate a lot of revenue for vendors and can help businesses develop a following, but the rewards come at the cost of hard work. The vendors, however, agree that the biggest reward from working at the fair is the enjoyment from spending time with other members of the community.
“I think I speak for all the vendors here that it is hard work,” Owen said. “It’s very physical, dragging out all the equipment, but it is a lot of fun. It’s fun for all of us here.”
The fair will run until Saturday night at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. More information can be found on the fair's website http://www.mcagfair.com.