The Great Frederick Fair returns for its 160th year, gearing up for nine days of livestock, entertainment and family fun


A group of cows… what are they staring at? – Photo courtesy of me

As the iconic white tents go up on the Fair’s 44-acre grounds, exhibitors add the finishing touches to their potentially prize-winning artworks and goods, while local vendors prepare to serve the estimated 250,000 fairgoers that walk through the historic gates annually. The Great Frederick Fair is here again, returning from Sept. 16-24.


The celebrated Frederick County exhibition, now in its 160th year, boasts a variety of fun entertainment options and engaging activities. Performing at the Grandstand on Sept. 18 is Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, famous for their 1982 hit “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Other headliners include contemporary Christian music artist Chris Tomlin, stand-up comedian Ron White and the group “I Love the 90’s”, consisting of hip hop artists Vanilla Ice, Coolio and Tone Loc, among others. The infamous demolition derby and truck/tractor pull, staples of the Frederick Fair for many years, are also returning, on Sept. 20-21 and Sept. 19, respectively.


Many Tuscarora students have already shown their enthusiasm for the Fair, even those who casually visit with little interest in the events that the Fair has to offer.


“I simply enjoy just being there with friends, as well as meeting all sorts of unique people that the Fair brings together,” said Paul Barrett, a junior. “I also enjoy the games where you throw the balls into the cups to win fish. I have won many fish,” he beamed.


However, some students are not so eager to visit. “I’m not excited for the Fair because I don’t care for most of the attractions nor the overly greasy food,” remarked Ethan Putnam, a junior. “Because of this, I have only been to the Fair a few times in the past and probably won’t go this year.”


I saw the Fair firsthand on Sept. 18, visiting during the daylight hours when crowds were at a moderate level. The “Jack Pass” promotion has returned, providing a general admission ticket and a carnival wristband for $30–although, these tickets could only be bought up until 5 p.m. on the first Friday of the Fair.


Typical Fair food staples have re-emerged from last year, but I suspect price increases across the board. A lemonade purchased for a friend cost me $8, and a refillable ‘Tiki Tea’ jug was another $8. The lemonade, apparently watery and bitter, was soon thrown out, but I refilled the ‘Tiki Tea’ jug with the provided “free refill” card. ‘Tiki Tea’ is an annual Fair tradition for me, and I hoped that I still had my tea jug from years prior (I did not). What’s really incredible to me, however, is the level of variations in prices all across Fair concession stands. Bottles of water are sold from $1 all the way up to $5 in different locations, all very close to each other.


“It’s shocking how much everything costs,” said a Fair visitor.


Prices aside, I enjoyed visiting again this year. For lunch, I had a hot Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions which was very tasty, and I enjoyed seeing the dairy cows and other livestock. I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the exhibit barns, but hopefully I’ll get to see them on another visit.


Many students did not have the same pleasant experience as I did. Some expressed their concerns about problematic merchandise sold at the Fair, such as belt buckles adorned with flags and iconography of the former Confederate States of America–widely perceived to be symbols of white supremacy. Also distressing is the Fair’s history of violence. Last Saturday, two teens were arrested after fights at the front gates, and just three years ago today, a 59-year-old Mount Airy resident died at the Fair after being assaulted by two brothers.


Despite the polarizing nature of the Fair, it doesn’t seem that the annual staple will be going away anytime soon. Personally, I encourage others to visit at least once. There’s a lot to be seen, and there’s a lot of fun to be had if you can get past the shortcomings.


General admission tickets are $10, and children ten and under get in free.,the%20third%20week%20of%20September%20.&text=THE%20GREAT%20FREDERICK%20FAIR%2C%20INC.,-The%20Great%20Frederick