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64th annual agriculture fair draws record crowd numbers and unique attractions

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Published on: Thursday, August 22, 2013

By Donna Broadway

GAITHERSBURG – The 64th annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair is a wrap. After eight days of exhibits, food and live entertainment, some fairgoers are having a hard time believing it’s over.

“This is just too sad. It seems like the fair just started, and already, it's over,” Arlene Jaye said.

The 2013 fair, nicknamed Disney World North by fair staff and fairgoers, saw more than 220,000 attendees, an increase of about 20,000 from 2012, said Martin Syreck, executive director for the Montgomery County Agricultural Center, Inc.

 The fair, which averages 250,000 fairgoers a year, is the largest county fair in Maryland and one of the largest overall in the state. The Maryland State Fair, which brings in an average of 400,000 fairgoers a year, is the largest.

Syreck said the most popular events at the fair were the demolition derby, the monster trucks, the live show by Timbertina and the Lumberjills, Brad’s Coma Hypnoses, and the Agricadabra magic show.

“The value of coming to the fair in the education, food and fun is great, and the cost is still very, very inexpensive. You can’t go to the movies for $10 anymore. If you think about it, you get a whole day of entertainment and we get dozens of free acts that perform here on the grounds, from music to magic, and it doesn’t cost anything at all,” Syreck said.

An unusual highlight of the fair was the breaking of the record for the most grill cheese sandwiches sold at the fair.  On Aug. 16, Gina Consumano bought the 10,000th sandwich of the 2013 fair, but the total rose to almost 12,000 by the end of the fair. Last year, 8,400 sandwiches were sold. The national record, held by the Wisconsin State Fair, is 62,000 sandwiches sold in one fair.

Even though the fair has only been over for less than a week, planning for the 2014 fair is already underway. The theme for 2014 Montgomery County Agricultural Fair is “Country in the Air.”

“It feels very gratifying to have a very successful fair for the citizens of Montgomery County,” Syreck said. “Our volunteer committees will be working tirelessly throughout the coming months to ensure the next fair. We are looking forward to having good weather and good crowds again.”

In addition to the monster trucks, animals and demolition derby, next year’s fair will have a new event called “The Fair’s Got Talent,” in which local acts will compete in a competition similar to America’s Got Talent for cash prizes.

Syreck laughed when asked about rumors that 2013 would be the last year for the fair.

“I don’t know where those rumors come from. The fairground is not for sale. We just spent a significant amount of time, money and effort to build a new Old MacDonald’s Farm on the property. We have no intentions to leave this property. Those rumors have been going on as long as I can remember,” Syreck said. “We are here in Gaithersburg and we are making the improvements to the ground and the buildings to provide the best possible experience for our patrons, and there is nothing on the horizon that I know of that would change that.”

Syreck said the theme for 2015 is “Celebrate and Education” and 2016’s is “Making Tracks to the Fair.”

“We’ve got themes figured out until 2036; we plan to be running this fair forever, our plas is to make sure that we are able to provide great family entertainment, agricultural education for many, many years to come,” Syreck said.

The next event to be held at the fairgrounds is the 2013 El Salvatore Independence Day celebration, which will be held Sept. 15 and is expected to bring in crowds of at least 10,000.

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