LUMBERTON — With the cutting of a ribbon at 5:30 p.m. Friday, a formality at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair was done and the fun can begin.
Cutting the ribbon during a ceremony at the McDonald’s Midway Stage at the Robeson County Fairgrounds was Sue Bennett, wife of the late Morris Bennett, who was involved in the fair for 58 years before his recent death. Morris Bennett was honored during Friday’s ceremony and in a separate ceremony on Aug. 6. This year’s edition of the fair preview book was dedicated to him.
A number of local and state officials were present for the cutting of the ribbon. Among them were Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill, state Reps. Charles Graham and Garland Pierce, and Robeson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jerry Stephens.
Graham commended the efforts of fair organizers. He said the fair is an educational experience for Robeson County children that gives them the opportunity to learn about the economy through agricultural.
Graham described the fair as “a bright light” that brings promise and excitement to the county each year.
“The fair is a good venue for our county to be on display,” Graham said. “To demonstrate that there’s a lot of good happening in our county.”
He also said the fair gives Robeson County children the opportunity to socialize with each other and display their talents and crafts.
“We’ve got a lot of good talent in this county,” he said.
Fair President Allen Faircloth welcomed the people attending the ribbon cutting. He said the fair “is the safest place in Robeson County besides the Sheriff’s Office” because of the large law enforcement presence. He thanked Wilkins and local law enforcement for the security provided to fairgoers.
Wilkins reflected on his experiences attending the fair growing up, calling it “a successful event for many years.” The sheriff said he looks forward to helping provide optimal safety for all in attendance.
The fair will run through Oct. 5, and will feature 36 rides, about 80 food vendors, and a number of business and entertainment booths, home and agricultural exhibits, livestock shows, and arts and crafts exhibits. There will be contests of all kinds, ranging from pumpkin decorating to praise dance to baking.
The food and entertainment offerings are expected to draw many people, Faircloth said. Fair organizers are working to draw 100,00o people and to eclipse the past attendance record of 90,000.
Among new additions to the fair this year are Johnny Rockett’s Cycle Circus and LEW-E’s Comedy Circus, both of which will provide daily entertainment to fairgoers. A 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit will be on-site Sunday through Tuesday. Jim Quick & Coastline will provide live entertainment during beach music night on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The fair is presented by Big Rock Amusements. The traveling amusement park serves the states of Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, according to its website.