“Homegrown Hospitality and Heritage” is the theme for the 2019 Madison County Fair which opens next Wednesday. The theme pays tribute to three sources of local pride: agriculture, community and tradition.

The annual family friendly event features a wide variety of activities, with literally something for everyone: from the traditional livestock shows and carnival rides to contests to live music, entertainment and home-ec exhibits.

The annual fireman’s parade is the official kick-off to the Madison County Fair, which begins Wednesday, July 17, and continues through Saturday, July 20.

Each year, local fire companies and rescue units, church and school groups and area organizations parade down Main Street from Waverly Yowell Elementary School to the fairgrounds. This year’s parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Also, on Wednesday, the fair’s ever-popular donkey races are back. Wednesday’s schedule also includes 4-H dairy and swine shows, a singles horseshoe tournament at 7 p.m., a pie eating contest and live music from the Dark Hollow Band at 8 p.m.

Thursday is considered “Kids’ Night” with 4-H beef, goat and sheep shows, the children’s pedal tractor pull and the power wheels derby. For the adults, there is the apple pie contest and a doubles horseshoe tournament.

The 4-H and FFA livestock auction will be held on Friday, July 19. Friday’s schedule also includes a cornhole tournament, music from Austin Boggs and the True Grit Rodeo exhibition.

The fair wraps up Saturday with the garden tractor pull at 9 a.m., another cornhole tournament at 11

a.m., a watermelon eating contest at 5 p.m. before the featured event, the demolition derby at 8 p.m.

All four days of the fair will have live entertainment including the popular Wes Iseli illusion show, the Kenya Safari Acrobats, Ol’ Stone Woodworking and Mountain Music.

In keeping with the heritage part of the theme, there will be a tent with daily demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts. Rural Madison will hold a planting and gardening talk, the Madison Quilting Guild will have demonstrations and there will be papermaking and basket weaving demonstrations.

Fair board member Essie Berry is looking forward to this year’s fair.

“It’s almost here again,” Berry said about the 2019 fair. “We [the fair board] have been working since right after the 2018 fair to put this together. Once again, we have a mix of old and new. The Little Miss and Mister Pageant is back for the second year. Donkey races, always a crowd favorite, are back after being gone for several years. We put this on for the kids, for the community and there is something for everyone.”

Berry expects a large turnout in the home and garden competitions and noted the senior citizen division has been growing every year, thanks in part to participation by the Madison Senior Center.

According to Extension agent, Brad Jarvis participation in the livestock shows is up.

“We are seeing more animals each year,” he said. “We have a very strong 4-H livestock program here and now we have so many animals that we need to put up tents outside the show barn.”

Berry is pleased by the strong participation in 4-H.

“The livestock shows are one of the most enjoyable parts of the fair,” said Berry. “These kids put a lot of work in their animals. Even though many are auctioned, these calves and lambs become a part of these kids’ lives. For the kids that don’t have the space, time or interest there are plenty of opportunities to exhibit something at the fair. Whether you bake, sew, take pictures or build, the fair has a class for you.”

Berry said she and the fair board appreciate all the help and support provided by the community and they are all working on last-minute preparations for the 2019 event.

“It takes a lot of time and money to put on the fair. We wouldn’t be able to do this without all of the community support,” she said. “We have most everything lined up and ready to go. The only thing we have left to worry about is the weather and we don’t have any control of that.”

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