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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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County fair is returning in 2014

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

After almost 40 years, Franklin County is reviving its annual fair.

The 2014 Franklin County Agricultural Fair is planned for Sept. 10-13 at the recreation park on Sontag Road.

The board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a request from Mike Burnette, the county's director of economic development, for $33,000 to reserve a midway for the event.

Brinkley Entertainment Inc., based in North Carolina, will bring 12 mechanical rides, including a 50-foot ferris wheel, as well as two concession trailers and four or more games for the four-day fair, starting on Wednesday, Sept. 10 and ending on Saturday, Sept. 13.

A renewal of the fair has been discussed for several years, and in 2011, a committee was formed to explore the idea. In February 2012, the board showed support for the initiative and urged county officials to continue with planning.

"The project has gone slowly," Burnette said, mainly because it has been difficult to find a midway provider that would "take a chance on us for our first time out."

With the help of Tarah Holland, the county's director of tourism, the fair planning committee finally secured Brinkley Entertainment after changing the fair dates from August, the initial plan, to September.

"The September 2014 date not only supports the committee's goal of organizing an agricultural event closer to fall, but also supports such valuable attributes as the inclusion of skills competition for local and regional youth that occur during the academic calendar year," Burnette said.

Supervisors Chairman David Cundiff asked about the hours the fair will be open.

Burnette said the hours are still being finalized by the committee, but on Wednesday and Thursday, the fair could open at 4 or 5 in the afternoon and close around 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the closing would be later, with an earlier opening on Saturday.

Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson asked if the schools had been working with the committee since schools actually dismiss earlier in some localities on the Friday of a fair so students can participate.

"The schools have been very, very supportive on the committee," Burnette said.

Thompson also asked about local vendors selling food.

Burnette said the midway's concessions will be funnel cakes in one trailer, and popcorn and cotton candy in the other.

"We would not compete with those," he said, adding that local vendors selling other food products can participate.

Burnette said that, besides the $33,000, other expenses for the fair will occur, including marketing, musical entertainment, tents, stage and sound set-up, and other amenities.

However, he added, revenue will be seen through sponsorships, gate admission, ride tickets/wristbands, concert tickets and vendor, exhibitor and competition fees.

All non-midway expenses should be covered, Burnette said, possibly leaving the midway fee the only expense for the county.

But revenues should "far exceed" what is anticipated, he said, and any shortfall will be covered through existing economic development funds.

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