Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2022:
The first Rains County Fair was held on the courthouse square in Emory from October 31 through November 1, 1930. A lot has changed since then. The event has moved from the square to the Fair Grounds, it now extends over five days instead of two – and more if you include the judging of the exhibits before the Fair opens and the livestock sales afterward – and it is held in September. But most of all, the Rains County Fair is probably a lot more exciting than it was 92 years ago.
Of course, exciting depends on your perspective –but there’s something for just about everybody regardless of what your perspective is. There are rides for the thrill seekers and all kinds of treats for the foodies. It’s the big finale for students who have spent months raising what they hope will be the prize-winning animal in its class, and it’s the photo op of a lifetime for parents and grandparents whose young ones are competing in one of the pageants or showing off their courage and skill at mutton busting. Those interested and talented in creative arts, horticulture, mechanics, baking, and more can present their offerings to be judged, and those entries are then exhibited for everyone to see.
The Fair itself opens on Tuesday, September 13 and closes on Saturday, September 17. Fair week also includes activities that are not on the Fair Grounds. The 24th annual Classics around the Square car show will take place on September 10, and a parade through downtown Emory and a chili cook-off will take place on the final day of the Fair. There’s much more that I’ve missed, but you can find more information here in the Leader, on the Rains County Fair Facebook page, or at www.rains.agrilife.org/county-fair .
The reason I may have missed some things the Fair has to offer is that I spend most of the five days in the Exhibit Building. I have been surprised to discover that many people don’t even know that the Exhibit Building exists. It is located at the back of the Fair Grounds between the Stage Pavilion and Highway 19.
This building is where you can see handmade quilts and other needlework, antiques and other collectibles, various types of artwork and photographs, and canned fruit, vegetables, jams, and jellies that were entered for judging. You can see the winning entries and see if you agree with the judges’ decisions.
In addition to the contest entries, the commercial exhibits are in this building. You can do some Christmas shopping from a wide variety of offerings that in the past have included handcrafted woodwork, jewelry, essential oils, decorative and practical needlework items, knives and other tools to name a few. And of course, I will be there with my books.
In addition, the Rains County Republicans are usually there offering the opportunity to register to vote, and the American Legion sells popcorn and homemade peanut brittle to raise money for their scholarship fund. If you’re too tired to shop by the time you make it to the Exhibit Building, Toni Threadgill usually sets up a break area with chairs. And sometimes low-cost chair massages are available to relieve those tired neck and shoulder muscles. Best of all, there are clean restrooms and air conditioning.
One of the complaints about small towns, especially from the young who are eager to get out and stretch their wings, is that there’s nothing to do. But during Fair Week, there’s plenty to do. Put it on your calendar and see what Rains County does for fun. And don’t forget to stop by the Exhibit Building to at least rest your feet and say hello.