Embracing Our Agricultural Heritage

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The colorful glow in the night sky along Highway 41 in South Lumberton grew a little dimmer as the 71st Annual Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair came to an end. As the amusement rides were packed up and hauled off into the horizon, only memories of the fun-filled, ten-day event remain. Judging by the enthusiastic squeals and rumbles of laughter heard throughout the fairgrounds, many of the over 56,000 attendees enjoyed all the numerous entertainment offered. Of course, much attention is given to the flashy carnival rides, yet the organizers of the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair work extremely hard to ensure each patron has an unforgettable experience.

I’m proud to say our agricultural heritage remains a critical focus of our fair. This is noted by the various agricultural and home exhibits, educational booths, competitions, and vendors. As the number of citizens who have become removed from the family farm continues to increase, sharing our agricultural heritage is more important than ever. Agriculture remains our number one industry with cash receipts reaching over $396 million and plays a tremendous role in supporting our local economy in Robeson County.

What most attendees may not realize is over 2,000 agricultural and home exhibits consisting of animals, field and horticultural crops, cut flowers, baked goods, canned goods, and antique equipment were on display during the fair. Something else many fair patrons may not realize is many of these displays adorned with ribbons will go home with some nice premiums. In fact, the fair typically offers over $25,000 in fair premiums that will go back to folks who enter exhibits in judged competitions. A quick glance of the premium fair book reveals over 1,000 classes of exhibits in both youth and adult categories are offered.

Working with many of the skillful farmers in the county has taught me that planning for the next year often begins even before harvest is over. With that said, I would like to encourage farmers, home gardeners, and other crafting enthusiasts to consider entering an exhibit into the county fair next year. You can begin now by reviewing the exhibit categories in the premium fair book found online at www.robesoncountyfair.com and planning what challenge you feel up to. All articles must be prepared, made, or grown by the exhibitor within the last year to be eligible. This could even be a fun project for your children, grandkids, or community youth to get involved in with so many options, and you might be surprised how much they learn along the way. Knowing the fruits of their labor could be on display for others to see and the possibility to earn some spending money may be just what it takes to get them interested. So start planning, get outside, and practice your skills to help make our agricultural and home exhibit displays at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair look good in the process!

For more information, please contact Mac Malloy, Extension Field Crops Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Mac_Malloy@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.

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