By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
Appeared In: September 14, 2017 edition
DINWIDDIE – For some, the Labor Day weekend signals the transition from the summer to the fall but, for those living in Dinwiddie, the smell of delicious food and the cheers of kids and kids at heart on various rides and attractions at the Dinwiddie County Fair serve as the formal beginning of fall in the county.
Last weekend saw the event of the year successfully kick off at Virginia Motorsports Park just off Boydton Plank Road as thousands of people made their way out to the facility for the 2017 Dinwiddie County Fair sponsored by Food Lion and, much to the prediction of fair organizers and the Farmer’s Almanac, the weather was perfect for the three-day event.
For $10 a carload, dozens upon dozens of cars streamed into this year’s fair, a fair that saw plenty of careful planning and consideration go into it as they worked to continue to build on past momentum.
Speaking to supervisors weeks before the gates opened to the 2017 Dinwiddie County Fair, organizers said that the fair’s offerings were closely looked at and decisions were made to make the attendee’s experience as fun and enjoyable as possible.
“We, along with the group of citizens that we have talking about the event throughout the course of the year, really targeted some things we wanted to address moving into 2017 that hopefully will make the event better,” Andrew Hardy, Recreation Superintendent and Special Events and Tourism for Dinwiddie’s department of parks and recreation told county leaders and residents during the Board of Supervisors’ August meeting.
One aspect organizers pointed to specifically was the fair’s petting zoo, admitting it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been in past fairs while noting the 2017 fair would see the return of Bar C Ranch providing and operating the zoo during last weekend’s event.
The program of attractions was extensive for this year’s fair, with a variety of things to see and do for a while range of ages and interests and that’s another area organizers honed in on in the planning for the 2017 Dinwiddie County Fair.
“We returned some of the attractions that have been fan favorites in the past, like The Magical Lance Gifford being on-hand for all three days doing his magician show, and No Limits Karting coming back for more of a teen experience with the go-karts,” Hardy detailed.
All three days saw patrons of the fair enjoying some of the best fair food money can buy as many favorites returned for the 2017 event, including the Dinwiddie High School FFA, Dinwiddie FFA Alumni Association, Rocky Run Baseball, and more serving hot and fresh fried bologna sandwiches, hearty Brunswick Stew, along with tall cups of sweet drinks and sweeter desserts to go alongside them.
When attendees weren’t roaming the grounds and learning more about their community from various agencies, local businesses, and members of the Dinwiddie law enforcement and public safety community, they were at the expansive carnival area, which featured a 200×500-foot overall footprint with nearly two dozen carnival rides within it, including the Expo Wheel, Catch N’ Air, Silver Streak and a slew of others.
Going into last weekend’s event, organizers were hoping to build on last year’s strong attendance numbers and last week’s calm and comfortable weather likely helped their cause as final attendance numbers were still being tabulated as of press time.
“Last year, we saw 13,000 folks come through for the event and we would like to see that increase here in 2017,” Hardy said.
One way organizers are working to grow the fair’s base is by bringing the community into the event by making people, community, and civic organizations, and others part of the planning and execution of the fair. Already, organizers of the fair said they’re already seeing this approach paying dividends.
“This is something that we have targeted because, when you look at great fairs that have been operating for years upon years, the one staple they all have in common is that the community supports the fair,” he said. “Getting the community involved in this event is where we really have transitioned and we think that is where the spike in attendance has been.”
In addition, the fair recognized its local military and public safety representatives on Sunday through its Dinwiddie County Public Safety & Military Appreciation Day, which saw all military, retired and active, and Dinwiddie Public Safety personnel, along with their carload, granted free admission to the fair with a valid identification card.
Even as the fair’s last attendee walked out on Sunday, organizers are already taking notes from this year’s fair and using that valuable information, including feedback from patrons who came out to Virginia Motorsports Park last weekend to craft an even better experience for the 2018 Dinwiddie County Fair.