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When the Red River Valley Fair opens its gates Sept. 24-28, it will be kicking off its 102nd year in Lamar County.
“The community needs or wants or enjoys it – or all of the above; our attendance seems to go up each year,” said Rita Jane Haynes, executive director of the Red River Valley Fair Association. “We have not raised prices on anything in several years.”
Around 20,000 people attend the fair each year, with attendance varying from 16,000 to 23,000, depending on the weather.
Gates open at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and close at 10:30 p.m. through Thursday and at 11 p.m. on Friday. Gates are open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Admission is $5 for adults and children over 6. Children 6 and under get in free. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the adult admission is only $3 and seniors 60 and older get in free. Arm bands for carnival rides are $18 Tuesday through Thursday, $20 on Friday, $15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and $20 after 5 p.m.
A parking fee of $1 per car will be charged, with proceeds benefitting local church youth groups and Boy Scout troops.
“Most people come for the grounds entertainment, the exhibits and the food,” Haynes said. “Of course, the kids come for the carnival.”
Entertainment this year comes in many forms. The main stage gets rocking at 7 p.m. Tuesday with gospel music from Ralph and Virginia Taylor and 8 p.m. with Lori Nixon and the Gillians. Wednesday offers country music with Shaun Michaels at 7 p.m., and Blackland at 8 p.m. The country sound continues Thursday at 7 p.m. with Wade White and the Plain Label Band and at 8 p.m. with John Conlee. On Friday, indie rock band Empire Kid takes the stage at 7 p.m., followed by Wendy, Cold & Rain at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, check-in for the Little Britches Rodeo is at 10:30 a.m. next to the stage, with the event at 11 a.m. and a pedal power tractor pull. The Little Britches Talent Show gets under way at 6 p.m. Then at 8 p.m., Paris Idol gets started. The singing competition actually begins more than a week earlier with preliminary competition at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 on the main stage. The second preliminary round is 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 21.
Anyone wishing to see the competition should probably stake out a seat early.
“It brings a lot of people out,” Haynes said. “Everybody brings their family and friends. You put them all together, and you’ve got a big crowd.”
Elsewhere on the grounds, fairgoers can peruse the AG-Venture exhibits featuring farm equipment, honey, pecans, pumpkins, recipes and more. Organizations will also have their own displays, including Lamar County 4-H, Lamar County Master Gardeners, USDA, Southwest Dairy Farmers, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Beef Council, Texas Farm Bureau and Texas Forestry Service.
Local residents have the opportunity to show off their home grown or canned fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers for judging in the Home and Garden Showcase. Check in is noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Coliseum. Judging takes place at 7 p.m.
There is also a pecan pie contest Sept. 28 with pies turned in at noon and judged at 2:30 p.m. in the Coliseum.
This year marks the fourth Pumpkin Patch for children 10 and younger. The children will select a pumpkin that they can decorate on site and take home free of charge.
Grownups wishing to show off their creative side can enter eight divisions in the Creative Arts and Crafts Showcase: Arts and crafts; painting, drawing, and photography; needlework; quilts; clothing; crocheting and knitting; baking and candy; and antiques and collectables. Check-in for arts and crafts is noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 in Building B. Judging will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 23.
Daily attractions also include Happy World Carnival, Gator the Clown, Cato’s Antique Car, Pony & Pals Petting Zoo, Flores Family Thrill Show, Conjurer, Billy Roy’s One Man Band, Red River Valley Antique Tractor Club exhibit, and various commercial, community and educational exhibits.
Sept. 25 is Pre-School Day, with youngsters getting a first-hand look at the fair and exhibits from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 28, kicks off with check-in for the George Robinson Memorial Chili Cook-Off at 8 a.m. behind the outdoor stage and west side building and fair office. Entry fee is $20. A cooks meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., and chili is to be turned in at 1 p.m. with judging to follow. There will be two contest divisions: Chili Appreciation Society International-sanctioned and local. Prizes will be awarded in each. All chili must be cooked from scratch on site the day of the cook-off. All chili must be prepared in the open.
The final day also includes the Red River Valley Fair Junior Livestock Show. The event is open to all 4-H and FFA members, and out-of-state livestock is permitted. Health papers are required. Livestock exhibitors can start arriving 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The livestock show is divided into three rings. Ring 1 is the Cattle A Ring. Prizes include class ribbons, grand and reserve champion breed rosettes for heifers and overall grand and reserve champion trophy buckles for heifers and steers. Entry fee for Ring 1 is $20.
Ring 2 is the Cattle B Ring. Prizes include class ribbons, grand and reserve champion breed rosettes for heifers and breed grand and reserve champion awards for steers. Entry fee for Ring 2 is $15.
Ring 3 is for lambs and goats. Prizes include class ribbons, grand and reserve breed rosettes for lambs and overall lamb and goat grand and reserve buckles. Entry fee is $15.
Check-in is from 7:30 to 9 a.m., with Rings 1 and 3 starting at 10 a.m. and Ring 2 starting 15 minutes later.
For more information on cattle, contact Tracy Denny at 903.737.2815 or 903.517.0838; Jeff Kinslow at 903.715.1346; or Kyle Kinslow at 903.249.6552. For more information on lambs and goats, call Kelsey Evans at 903.517.6919 or Steve Tucker at 903.517.3291.
For more information about the Red River Valley Fair, visit www.rrvfair.org or call 903.785.7971.
By Jeff Parish, eParisExtra