The Cecil County Fair is more than 60 years old and began as a single day of farm-centered fun.
The first fair was held July 31, 1954 with permission from the DuPont family to use the property now known at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.
By the 70s it was a six-day run from Monday to Saturday.
Now it’s a full nine days of activity beginning July 23 and running through July 31 at the Cecil County Fairgrounds in Fair Hill at the intersection of Routes 213 and 273 north of Elkton.
The Cecil County Fair Board is comprised of volunteers representing the entire county and broken down into various committees, including a Junior Fair Board. Before this year’s fair is wrapped up these volunteers will be pondering and planning the 2022 fair.
While the Cecil County 4-H is the primary focus of the fair board it also entails vendors, entertainment, food, grounds, safety, equipment, maintenance and parking to name a few.
The fair board is always open to ideas and new volunteers. Fair board members are easy to spot during the Cecil County Fair with their name badges. You can also drop in to the fair office, located at the end of the grandstands.
Cecil County has more than 250 children ages 6-18 enrolled in 4-H. With 18 clubs available there is certain to be one to interest just about any child. There’s Rabbit Wranglers, Rising Sun Milk Squirters, Cecil Tech Wizards, Young Guns, Calvert Boys & Girls and more.
At the fair you will see the culmination of many of their 4-H projects; everything from a 1500-pound steer to a hand sewn piece of clothing, baked goods to arts and crafts.
The 4-H members with animals on the grounds to be judged can be found in the barns. Chickens, ducks, rabbits, geese, goats, sheep, pigs, dairy and beef cows and horses will be on display.
This is a good way to teach your kids about from where their favorite food begins. (Hint; it’s not the grocery store). Feel free to ask the youngsters about their animals and their 4-H projects. Being able to speak comfortably in public is part of 4-H involvement.
During the fair 4-H members will also show off their sewing, computer and electrical knowledge, robotics, tractor driving, wood working and other acquired skills.
For the kids with animal projects the 4-H Livestock Auction is the final act. They will have written letters and made phone calls inviting people to come to the auction Saturday July 31 at noon and bid on their animal. The winning bidder can turn around and give the animal back to the 4-H member or arrange for it to be processed into meat for their own freezer.
Animals that won Reserve and Grand Champion ribbons command the highest price.
Special days within the fair
Some days of the fair will have features celebrating certain groups.
For example July 24-25 is Old Time Farm Weekend featuring Oliver Equipment. Antique tractors and other farm equipment will be on display.
If you are in the military or a veteran Wednesday is Military Appreciation Day. On this day active and retired military get in free by showing ID.
4-H Appreciation Day is Friday. However since the groups could only start meeting in person recently, the 4-H Parade is off the schedule this year.
The pandemic also caused other appreciation days to be set aside including Day Care Day and Senior Citizens Day.
Tickets are still $6 at the gate for adults and $3 for those 60 and older and children 6-12. An unlimited entry pass is $25 at the gate and $10 for seniors and children. Active military with ID get a $2 discount.
Tickets can be purchased at a discount online at cecilcountyfair.org.
Degeller Attractions is back again with all the rides, games and fun on the midway. On the weekends the rides open at 2 p.m. with ride specials. During the weekdays the rides begin at 5, also with ride specials. Check out Buddy Night on Tuesday with two unlimited ride bracelets for $15.
Free parking is still available and so are the shuttle rides from the parking areas to the ticket gates. On the heaviest attendance nights — the rodeo and the derby — traffic will be diverted to other access points to avoid a back up on 213 and 273. It’s a system that has worked well in the past.
Join the fun
While there is a lot to see and do at the Cecil County Fair there are fun events for the public to join and be more than a spectator. Entering these contests is included with your admission.
Saturday July 24 at 4p.m. is an old-fashioned tug-o-war in the main arena. You are guaranteed to get dirty, sweaty and maybe even blistered while you laugh and pull. Or just watch and laugh and cheer.
Sunday night at 6 is the Cow Chip Toss. With plenty of cows available this competition would be easy to pull off. But wait, you are not throwing real dried, flattened cow manure.
The Cow Chip Toss uses clay pigeons (also not real birds, by the way) These round clay discs are more hygienic for the fun competition. Head to the Swine Barn to enter the competition.
The Pedal Tractor Pull is 6:30 Tuesday night. It’s basically a tractor pull for the kids. Contestants ride a tricycle pulling a kid-sized weighted sled. Get there early to get in the fun for the elementary school aged set. It’s held on the driveway near the Stafford Pavilion.
Wednesday at 7 p.m. is a competition for all ages: The Pie Eating Contest. Also held at the Stafford Pavilion, the challenge is to be first to clean your plate without using your hands.
Try the Hay Toss Thursday at 7 p.m. Unless you have thrown a hay bale before, prepare yourself for the weight of that bale and get ready to play.
On the final night of the Cecil County Fair the Youth Big Wheel Contest is held at 6 p.m. Like the Pedal Tractor Pull, this is geared toward the kids. Get there early and sign up to drive for prizes.
Big Ticket Entertainment
Oh sure you can take in a movie with your family but for the cost of one movie ticket you can get the whole family into the Cecil County Fair. You can pack a picnic cooler and spend hours wandering amongst the animal barns, visiting the vendors and seeing all the different entertainment.
Of course there is all the fair food favorites including the Young Farmer’s Ice Cream, Gifford Sweet Potatoes, and hand-squeezed lemonade from the Kiwanis Club. Add fried Oreos, chocolate covered bacon, cotton candy and candy apples and your diet is on vacation.
Take a seat and eat and enjoy the free entertainment included with your ticket. Every night there is live music at 7 p.m. Whether your jam is bluegrass, country or classic rock there’s a show for you.
One-Eyed Jacks takes the first stage Saturday night with classic rock and blues. Sunday night Just Because brings rock music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Ride the Goat has rock and roll on the stage Monday, and the blue grass of Acoustic Turnpike performs Tuesday at 7. Country rocker Olivia Reynolds is the featured performer Wednesday. The rock and pop of Denim & Lace takes the stage Thursday.
Bringing his original music and country to the fair Friday is Scott Bandy and finishing out the Cecil County Fair Saturday the 31st Shotgun Betty.
As if that weren’t enough, Team Uprooted is back again with its chainsaw carving. Watch as logs become eagles, bears, fish and raccoons. These works of art will be auctioned and raffled through the nine-day run.
Also returning is Mobile Glass Blowing with its glass and David Kauffman and his blacksmithing creations.
New this year is Great Lakes Timber Show. Get ready to laugh and maybe even get wet from the exploits of the troupe of comedic lumberjacks.
Each of these acts performs numerous times each of the nine days of the Cecil County Fair. Like the music it is included with your admission.