The Carroll County Agricultural Fair has been named “Best in State” (All Fairs All Divisions) for a second year. Fair Committee members and volunteers celebrated the honor and teamwork on January 29 at the Southwest Virginia Farmer’s Market.
Fair Chairman Kevin Semones confirmed Carroll’s fair was in competition with others that have much larger budgets and full-time fair directors with salaries larger than the local event’s entire budget. Other Best in State honors (all fairs all division) went to The Carroll News for best color advertisement and newspaper article; The Galax Gazette for best magazine advertisement and WBRF for best Radio advertisement.
“I don’t know how many times I say this and how I can say it any other way but without all these people, this thing doesn’t work,” Semones said. “It doesn’t matter if they give $5 or $5,000, or bring their antique tractor or anything in between, it takes the whole team to make it work. It’s become a community event, which is what we wanted it to be. We’re getting to where we need to be.”
He said the Fair gets great support from the county and sponsorship seems to grow every year. Semones said the effort has collected valuable talent for a variety of specialized activities including support from Carroll County and County Maintenance Crews. Inherent in the process is a willingness to try something. He said the common question to him, (even by RFD-TV), is what makes the area special? Semones said he agrees Dennis Ward of The Carroll Christmas Fund who has praised the way local people come together.
“There’s always lots of plans. We typically meet the fourth Monday of every month. People pulling together is what makes this event. If we don’t work together we don’t get anywhere. Do we always agree? No. We don’t always agree. It may just be we don’t quite have the equipment or whatever to make it work this year (for instance) but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen three years from now,” Semones said.
One ongoing project is to pair high school with intermediate students so they can help with the classes for underclassmen in the second and fifth grades, for instance. They aren’t at that yet but it is important to understand it is an ongoing process. The depth of talent has also brought a lot of things together, such as featured storyteller Vicky Town.
“We’ve went from a period where what somebody said would not happen to being the number one fair in the state for two years in a row,” Semones said as he welcomed participants to the celebration. The event featured Town and her professional storyteller talents.
The Fair earned more than 20 honors in the small fair division of the Virginia Association of Fairs, Communication Awards. Each event has its own committee. A partial listing of results and persons honored includes:
Website: first place, Teresa Lester.
T-shirt: second place, Fair Committee.
Theme: first place, (This has been in place since 2005 and agreed on by the Fair Committee.)
Radio: first place, Gene Dalton, Myra Leonard and Teresa Lester.
Promotional/advertising merchandise & souvenirs: first place, Patricia Hash
Premium book/catalogue: first place, Myra Leonard, Teresa Lester.
Poster: second place, Teresa Lester.
Polo shirt: first place, Myra Leonard.
Photo essay board: first place, Myra Leonard and Shelia Newman.
Pageant scrapbook: first place, Pageant Committee.
Pageant book: first place, Pageant committee.
Newspaper article: first place, Gene Dalton and The Carroll News.
Newsletter: second place, Myra Leonard.
Magazine advertisement: first place, Teresa Lester.
Flyer: third place, Teresa Lester and Myra Leonard.
Fair scrapbook: first place, Shelia Newman, Myra Leonard, Patricia Hash.
Fair booklet: second place, Teresa Lester,
Billboard: second place, Myra Leonard and Brad Carico.
Secretary Teresa Lester, Sheila Newman, Makala Newman served as secretary for the Fair. Treasurers were Kevin Semones, Teresa Lester, Sheila Newman. Advertising committee members were Teresa Lester, Carol Chevalier, Sheila Newman, Gene Dalton
Ag Education Days committee members were Jonette Mungo, Myra Leonard, Trish Hash, Benny & Margie Quesenberry, Steve Pottorff, Ken Miller and Carroll Middle School and High School FFA. Ag Day for 5th Graders committee was composed of Carroll County Farm Bureau Young Farmers.
Antique Tractor-Equipment committee members were Ranza Horton, David Padgett, Ronald Newman and Kevin Semones. Kristina Delp was in charge of the beauty pageant. Coon Dog Events committee members were Trish Hash and Cody Vaughn.
Ronald Newman led the Demonstrators-General Concessions committee. The Drug Dog Demo was led by Terry Woods. Exhibits committee members included Carol Chevalier and Margie Quesenberry, Pat Cox, Janie Harrison and Steve Truitt. The FFA Barnyard committee was Myra Leonard, Richard Tate and Eddie Chitwood.
Food for Workers/Volunteers committee was Pat Cox and the Carroll Co. Farm Bureau Women’s’ Committee. Brad Carico and Alan Webb were the Forestry events members. Gates & Parking, Search & Rescue committee members were Stephen Turner, Clinton Primm, Wayne Marshall, Becky Semones and Sheila Newman.
Ryland Moore and Eddie Chitwood were the Horse Pull Committee members. The Horse Show committee chair was Tia Akers. Large Event Promotions were handled by Crystal Adams, Libby Lineberry and Nikki Cannon. The lawnmower race committee was Kevin Semones and Connie Sutphin.
Livestock Shows committee persons were Stephen Pottorff, Myra Leonard and Trish Hash. Midway operations committee was Kevin Semones and Teresa Lester. Music – General/Gospel was spearheaded by Annabelle Primm. The Pet Show committee was Myra Leonard and CCHS Interact Club. The Recipe Contest committee was Emily Padgett, Becky Semones, and Pat Burkholder. Sponsorship committee members were Teresa Lester, Carol Chevalier, Brad Carico, Pat Cox and Sheila Newman. Storytelling was chaired by Vicky Town and the Website & Social Media person was Teresa Lester.
Town and two volunteers led a spirited narrative on the Fair’s history complete with signs requesting boos, hisses and applause, the sound of rain and the phrase, “Ya. We can do that. OK.” Town said the idea emerged from “primordial ooze,” (no doubt dramatic foreshadowing for the rains ahead) and swooping down to land in Carroll County
“There was a handful of dreamers, county employees, concerned citizens. All saying the same thing. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Carroll County Fair!,” said Town. She said as soon as the words were out, dreamers encountered the “evil tyrant, negativity.”
The “intrepid” dreamers began with simple exhibits at VFW Post 1115. She then told participants committee members realized they needed a leader. Someone who could see the big picture or at least someone with 20/20 vision.
“The machinations here become real murky… but from what I could glean, from the two paragraphs sent me about the history of this fair, I understand a dashing, young Kevin Semones hosted a Carroll County Fair meeting….. In thirteen minutes and thirty-four seconds, you can read it in The Carroll County News, he came back from looking to see if a shipment had arrived, and when he walked back in the group they jumped to their feet, applauded and said Congratulations Kevin Semones, you are now the chairman! He took up his mantle of responsibility. By day he was a mild mannered Market Manager. By night he was the charismatic leader of the Carroll County Fair. We sat in circles. We each had an opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas. That’s the beauty of a circle, a circle can grow, expand and it never, ever breaks.”
Town next recalled “the great mud debacle of 2013,” saying vendor Brad Carico “stopped carving life-sized bears and switched to canoes” and food vendors served chicken noodle soup with pool noodles. She said eventually, “news of how intrepid these fair workers were made its way to the ears of the King of the Virginia State Fair Association. They sent out a messenger. The Carroll County Fair has been awarded the best fair in the state.” So it is my friends that each August the Carroll County Fair rises up like Brigadoon or Shangri-La for one glorious week each summer. So the joy and laughter goes on and on. May it always be so. Give yourself a hand.”
Fair Co-Chairman Myra Leonard said, “The fair is all about the people who put it together and work the fair.” She recognized the fair committee, food vendors, exhibitors, law enforcement and Virginia State Police, VDOT, volunteers, sponsors, Carroll County employees and Supervisors and contestants.”
She said said more than 1,000 children in first, second and fifth grades participated in the Ag Days, from Carroll County, Grayson and City of Galax. She recognized Ag Day leaders and volunteers, too. She also recognized the Farmer’s Market Staff for their non-stop support.
The 2018 Fair will be held August 19-26 at the Farmers Market. Volunteers are welcome to join the team at email@example.com and obtain more information at www.carrollcountyvafair.org or on wwwfacebook.com/carrollcountyvafair.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.