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Fair memories needed

July 25, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A new category of awards is being introduced at this summer's Washington County Ag Expo.

Added to the ribbons handed out in such categories as best steer, fattest pig and tastiest apple pie will be prizes for the best memories.

During Ag Expo week in early August, visitors to the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum will be invited to become part of the history of The Great Hagerstown Fair in a rather unique way.

"There will be a tape recorder available so visitors can record their favorite fair memories for posterity," said Dorry Baird Norris, who with Roy Thaler is co-chairman of the new fair exhibit.

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The exhibit will open Aug. 3 at 2 p.m. at the museum, which is located at the Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike. More than 150 years of Great Hagerstown Fair memories will be on display including pictures, posters, books and more.

"The fair represents a way of life that is rapidly disappearing," Thaler said. "It's about how we used to be."

In addition to opening day, the exhibit will be open through the end of Ag Expo week on Aug. 9 - weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. - and then on weekends from 1-4 p.m. until Sept. 8.

"We are going to have prizes for the best recollections as a child or of first fair, funniest anecdote, most sentimental, most romantic, most disillusioning and most satisfying," Thaler said.

He figures those who won ribbons as youngsters might want to recount that experience for future listeners. And there are probably lots of people who met their future spouses or who saw a two-headed cow or a scantily-clad belly dancer at the fair.

The recordings will be placed in the museum's library to commemorate Washington County's agricultural history.

Articles of interest from past fairs are being collected now and will be displayed. Some vintage posters, prizes, cups, premium books and lots of ribbons already have been loaned for the event, Norris said.

"We have a copy of the 1914 blueprint of the entire Fairgrounds property where the fair used to be held," Norris said.

Among the prizes is a copy of the 1854 incorporation papers for the Agriculture and Mechanical Association, which sponsored The Great Hagerstown Fair.

The first seven Great Hagerstown Fairs were held on Williamsport Pike beginning in 1855. After a brief stint on Cearfoss Pike, the fair board purchased land off Jefferson Boulevard, which was then built into the Fairgrounds.

The fair was held at the Fairgrounds until 1982 and included a midway and exhibits. The Ag Expo moved to Hagerstown Speedway from 1982 to 1992 until the current facilities opened on Sharpsburg Pike.

For more information on the exhibit, call 240-420-5082.

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