Amid abnormal times, county fair offers a respite — and pony rides

By Randi B. Hagi, assistant editor

This year’s Rockingham County Fair was pared down because of the pandemic but still highlighted the basics. Without the usual Ferris wheel and tilt-a-whirl, ponies were primo rides available to young patrons last week. Fair staff posted on Facebook on July 13 that they would not be holding a pageant this year. On July 23, they announced that concerts, the demolition derby, drag races, and carnival attractions were also scratched.

Despite signs posted throughout the fairgrounds advising patrons to wear face coverings, the majority went mask-less.

Livestock shows and sales were the backbone of this year’s fair. Brittany Roadcap of Roadcap Farms showed Suffolks – a breed of sheep primarily raised for meat. The barns were hubs of activity on Friday evening, with youth and adult exhibitors grooming, feeding, and watering their animals. Past the stalls, under the tall arches of a new sale barn, bidders crowded around the show ring in plastic and cloth chairs.

Bobby Menefee of Mt. Crawford competes in the antique tractor pull on Friday. This 1946 Farmall B model made it just over 108 feet in the 2,500-pound tractor class. Pulls were the only events held in the grandstand this year, which had been slated to host country artists Jimmie Allen, Matt Stell and The Hackens Boys.

A tiny button quail, fully grown at about five inches long, was among the animals for sale in the poultry, pigeon and rabbit barn.

A young fairgoer makes a miniature friend.

Amanda Basham, who raises rabbits and poultry, trims the claws of the newly-dubbed “Bella” before she goes to her new home.

Caleb Leininger carries a Silver Spangled Hamburg hen.

Trump – Pence 2020 signs dotted the barns and fairgrounds. The Harrisonburg/Rockingham GOP Committees manned a booth at the event. There was no such presence from area Democrats.

The Pickins family takes a break from showing.  Ellie, on the left, came to sell two Hampshire cross sheep, supported by sister Charlie and parents Ben and Becky.

Karen Hosaflook holds down the Burger Barn on Friday evening. Fair staff and volunteers wore plastic face shields at their posts.

Clayton Armstrong of Singers Glen competes in the 3,000-pound class at the antique tractor pull.

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