When you drive through any of the towns or communities in the greater Annapolis area, you might be surprised to think about the fact that so much of Anne Arundel County used to be farmland. Sure, there are still a few rural properties, mainly in southern parts of the county, but for the most part, Anne Arundel seems like an indisputably suburban community.
But yes, much of the area surrounding the City of Annapolis was once farmland, and there’s no better way of celebrating our county’s agrarian heritage than by participating in the annual Anne Arundel County Fair at the end of every summer. This year, the Anne Arundel County Fair is set for September 15 through 19 at the fairgrounds in Crownsville, and after a year off due to the COVID pandemic, the event planners are bringing back all the popular traditions that make the fair a great option for locals of all ages.
The Anne Arundel County Fair has a little bit of everything — there’s the carnival, there’s food, there’s games and contests, there’s shopping, there’s live entertainment, and so much more, all in an open-air environment.
First, let’s enjoy a little bit of history.
The Anne Arundel County Fair traces its origins all the way back to the ‘50s. The fair’s founder was a woman living in Annapolis known simply as Mrs. Lee, who was inspired by fond childhood memories of county fairs and approached the Maryland State Fair Board in spring 1952. After she received approval, she teamed up with several other go-getters to successfully organize the very first county fair by that fall — only mere months later!
They held it at the former Labrot Race Track, now the community of Revel Downs in Annapolis near Sandy Point State Park. More than 20,000 people came through to enjoy all kinds of activities and exhibits.
The success of that first fair meant that it just had to become an annual tradition. But it needed room to grow, so organizers took it a short distance away to Sandy Point State Park, which could accommodate more people. The Anne Arundel County Fair officially became a nonprofit membership organization in 1963, and the board set its sights on establishing a permanent site for the tradition that was gaining more and more popularity every year.
By the 1980s, the Anne Arundel County Fair found its new (and current) home on a piece of land directly in the middle of the county that was bought by the Department of Natural Resources. These new fairgrounds were conveniently located for all residents of the county and provided plenty of room for all kinds of activities.
Organizers and board members see the Anne Arundel County Fair as an opportunity for residents both young and old to learn about the history of the area where they live while also gaining an appreciation for things like rearing livestock, growing crops, and making crafts.
So, what can you expect?
If you’ve never been to the fair, it’s difficult to summarize everything the event has to offer. The official Entertainment Guide goes into detail about all the fun available, including live concerts on Friday and Saturday night, as well as carnival rides from Maryland’s leading carnival company Jolly Shows. You’ll also find details about the livestock auction, featuring animals that have been raised and groomed by the local 4H clubs, including chickens, pigs, lambs, and cows.
There will also be plenty of farmers, artisans, cooks, bakers, and crafters showing off their wares for sale, and the Exhibitors Catalog has the details on all of them. Exhibitors will even be adjudicated in such categories as: baked goods, canned goods, china, ceramics, Christmas décor, plants and produce, fine arts, flowers, handicrafts (wood, metals, fabric), herbs, homebrew (English ale, porter, stout, light/dark lager), home furnishings, homemade wine, honey, needle arts, photography, quilts, sewing, and woodcrafts.
Here are the most important details —
The Fair will be open on September 15th. The hours are Wednesday (5:00pm – 10:00PM), Thursday (10:00AM to 10:00PM), Friday (5:00PM to 11:00PM), Saturday (8:00AM to 11:00PM) and Sunday (8:00AM to 8:00PM). Admission is $10 for ages 10 and up, and children 9 and younger are free with a paying adult. Seniors, disabled guests, and children are all free on Thursday from 10:00AM to 3:00PM, and 4H and FFA exhibitors are free with a membership card. The Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds are located at 1450 Generals Highway (Route 178) in Crownsville.