TOLCHESTER — The Ag Center should be in pristine condition when the Kent County Fair opens Thursday.

Oodles of 4-H'ers and their adult leaders were on the fairgrounds July 10 for the "big" cleanup that traditionally occurs about a week before opening night, and a second, smaller wave of volunteers returned Saturday.

One of the first helpers to arrive Saturday was Marshall Taylor, who tried to beat the heat by getting there early to install a ton and a half air conditioning unit in the kitchen. Pinder Service Co. donated the equipment and Taylor, who has been working for Pinder since he was a Kent County High School senior, donated the labor.

Taylor is an alumnus of the Kent Clover Calf and Dairy Associates 4-H clubs.

Another Clover Calf alum, Brad Morris, brought along 10-year-old Oliver. The father-son duo was tasked with cleaning out a storage shed, and transforming it into an ice cream parlor for the duration of the three-day fair.

Oliver Morris, who will show pigs, represents the fourth generation of the Clover Calf Club. His great-grandfather Walter T. Morris Jr. was one of the founders.

Also bustling around the fairgrounds Saturday morning were all four members of the reigning Kent County 4-H Family of the Year: Josh Phillips, who is chairman of the Kent County Ag Center board of directors and fair chairman, his wife Trish and their teenagers Dustin and Anna.

The fair has been held at the Ag Center in Tolchester since 1982, but it's been a summertime staple in Kent County for much longer than that.

This year's dates are July 18-20.

The admission fee each day is $3 per person. It costs extra for the midway rides provided by Stine Amusements; you can purchase individual tickets, wristbands and family packages.

Fairgoers 60 and older will be admitted at no cost Thursday, which is Senior Day.

"There are lots of events going on and there are animal shows all three days," said Beth Hill, the Maryland Extension 4-H educator for Kent County and the go-to person for the fair.

A complete list of the events is available on the fair's website, kentcountyfair.org.

New this year is a blacksmithing demonstration by 16-year-old Noah McGrath from North East. Other special events include cake decorating, an upcycled furniture demonstration by Upcycled Smithery, and a sheep and alpaca demonstration by Laura Wilson.

Josh Miller will carve with a chainsaw on all three days.

The musical lineup features Rick and Regina Jamaican Delight, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday; Island Vibes steel drum ensemble, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday; and Vice Squad, 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

The crab cake dinner, which was a "huge success" last year, Hill said, is being brought back for Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30. The pork and chicken barbecue dinners will be Friday and Saturday nights (5 to 7 o'clock), respectively.

On Thursday, Nagel Farm Service again will offer free kids-size ice cream cones to all fair visitors from 5 to 8 p.m.

Hill said Friday is an ideal day for families because there is so much going on.

The baby contest is 5 p.m. Friday in the main show pavilion. Contestants will be judged on how well they represent the theme, which this year is "dream the green." The cost is $3. Contestants in various age groups up to 3 years old should be registered by 4:30 p.m. Entry forms can be found on the website kentcountyfair.org, under "Events."  

The greased pig contest gets underway 7 p.m. Friday in the horse ring. This is a new location, one that is more centrally located in the fairgrounds, according to Hill.

The pie-eating contest will immediately follow the greased pig contest, with an estimated starting time of 7:45 p.m.

One of the new offerings this year is a variety show, also on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage. Participants, from 3 years old and up, can perform any kind of entertainment or talent they want. They must register by Thursday, July 18; see the fair's website for entry forms.

Highlights of Saturday include the livestock show and auction and the cake auction, beginning at 7 p.m.

In a scheduling change from the past, the dairy cattle show will be at 9:30 a.m. and the sheep show will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

The shooting sports club will host an archery demonstration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the archery range at the back of the fairgrounds. A live fire archery demonstration will follow.

Popular events like the jousting tournament, corn hole tournament and tractor pull will be held at the usual times at the usual locations.

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