It’s the Great Frederick Fair, and it’s happening now! (It will be here all week.)
Locals and visitors to Frederick County are flocking to the Fairgrounds for midway rides, cotton candy and funnel cake, the Demolition Derby, and the Prettiest Goat Contest, too.
Yearly attendance ranges between 200 and 250 thousand people over the course of the nine-day event that has become an area favorite; it’s your favorite time of year, because it’s the Great Frederick Fair, but it hasn’t always been this way. No, there have been many changes since the first fair was held in 1822: Once a two-day event, the location, name, and time of year (May, October, November) existed in a state of flux before settling into its present place as Frederick County’s favorite way to do mid September.
The first free day for students and teachers was in 1885.
Today, this ‘free day’ happens on the second Friday of the fair, and is called Kids Fair Day. To take place this year on September 23, Kids Fair Day is, according to fair organizers, perhaps more important now than it was in 1885. As the county’s population grows, and so many fewer people are engaged in agricultural endeavors, Frederick County’s children do greatly benefit from an opportunity to see exactly where their food comes from.
The Great Frederick Fair was once a sought-after wedding venue.
Not so much anymore, but once upon a time betrothed couples couldn’t pass it up: Family and friends would be gathered at the fair, and there was plenty of food and drink around for everyone. There seemed no reason to not get hitched. In fact, a contest held in 1890 promised a honeymoon of sorts to a couple who would be married at the fair; and so, on October 16 of that year, Ella Graser and Jacob Kanode were wed.
Grandstand entertainment has run the gamut from odd to downright dangerous.
A self-proclaimed “expert girl shot with a rifle” performed her feats from the back of a running mustang in the late 19th century; a few decades later in the early 1900s fairgoers were delighted by the antics of acrobatic bears and monkeys, high-wire acts and vaudeville performers. The year 1950 brought the debut of the “Irish Horan and the Lucky Hell Drivers” show, during which a stock convertible was catapulted from a giant cannon.
Hank Williams wowed the crowd in 1971, when tickets could be purchased for just two dollars. Conway Twitty, The Judds, Randy Travis, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson have also shown up to entertain Frederick County fairgoers.
Don’t miss 38 Special, Foreigner, Jake Owen, and the Prettiest Goat Contest on tap at The Great Frederick Fair, running now through Saturday, September 24. Get Tickets HERE.