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Great Frederick Fair To Mark 150th Anniversary

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By IKE WILSON
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — John George oozes enthusiasm when he talks about plans for the 150th anniversary of The Great Frederick Fair.

Growing up on a farm near Johnsville, the Hood College associate professor of education said he has been an advocate for the fair since the first grade. So when fair board attorney Anne Herbert Rollins asked him to be on the 150th anniversary committee, he gladly accepted.

“Then I got a phone call asking me if I would be the chair, and I said yes,” George said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity.”

The committee, which consists of retired and active educators, people connected to farming, the Frederick County Tourism Council, Frederick County Historical Society and fair staff members, are bouncing ideas off each other to decide how to celebrate the anniversary, George said.

“Some wonderful things will be happening,” George said. “It’s a time to remember, embrace and share memories, traditions and experiences from years gone by.”

An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people are expected at the fairgrounds during the 150th Heritage Celebration scheduled for May 18 to 20. Admission and parking are free.

On Friday, May 19, about 1,077 Frederick County Public Schools children will visit the fairgrounds to experience traditions of yesteryear. They will be escorted in groups to see heritage animals, hear historical music and enjoy old-time food recipes, including homemade root beer and lemonade.

“It’s exciting that the teachers see the value the fair has to offer the students,” said Becky Brashear, general manager of The Great Frederick Fair.

The weekend will include livestock interpretations, heirloom vegetables, old-time games, sheep shearing demonstrations, crosscut sawing, hand-milking demonstrations, heritage breeds of livestock, jousting, corn shelling, a fire engine hand-pumper, The Frederick News-Post wall of history, blacksmithing and butter churning.
George said the fair has an exciting history, dating to 1822, the date of the first recorded fair event held at Creagers Tavern along the Monocacy River. In 1852, the Frederick County Agricultural Society was formed and decided to host the current Great Frederick Fair.

The fair was interrupted by two wars, the Depression, and influenza and moved from the South Market Street home of the Maryland School for the Deaf to its current East Patrick Street location in 1868.

The Great Frederick Fair was suspended for seven years by the Civil War. During the Depression, bales of wheat were used as payment to enter the fair, George said.

George has approached his chairmanship with the kind of diligence that’s hard to find, Brashear said. “He’s kept us
streamlined and focused, as a professor would do,” she said.

“We’re very proud to be putting on this event for the community,” Brashear said. “It’s quite an honor to do this. You
don’t get to do this every day.”

Brashear said the fair board is grateful to the community for its contributions of time and resources, including the Frederick County Farm Bureau, Frederick County Public Schools, as well as Master Gardeners and crafters who will be displaying their wares, Brashear said.

“And we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. George. His passion is contagious, and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to take this on,” Brashear said. “This calls for a tremendous amount of time.”

James S. Grimes said he is fortunate and humbled to serve as the fair board president during the historic celebration.

“This is certainly a unique time in the life of the fair, and it’s a historic opportunity to celebrate what our forefathers did, and what we’ve done to build on the agricultural theme the fair offers,” Grimes said.

The G-8 summit is planned for the same 150th Heritage Celebration weekend in May, and that’s a concern.

“We don’t know what impact, if any, it will have on the fair’s heritage celebration, but if people want to get away from the G-8 crowd, the fairground is the perfect place to be,” Brashear said.

Because U.S. Secret Service might have a problem with tethered hot air balloons mistakenly floating over Camp David as the G-8 summit is under way, that event may not happen, George said.

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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