EASTON — The Talbot County Fair opens Thursday, July 11, through Saturday July 13, and features the best of country life — good food, entertainment, rides and amusements, prize-winning vegetables and crops, exhibits, livestock shows and a chance for neighbors to visit neighbors.

It’s been going on for decades, and for many Mid-Shore farmers, 4-Hers and Future Farmers of America, it’s the highlight of their year, a chance to parade their best market hog, dairy cow, hen, goat and more, and be judged for prizes by the experts.

For those who don’t farm, the fair is down-home entertainment, a community favorite that attracts more than 3,000 visitors a year.

The fair is held at the Talbot Agriculture and Education Center at 10659 Hiners Lane, just off U.S. Route 50 north of Easton.

Admission to the fair is $5 per car each day, with the proceeds benefitting the agriculture center.

Thursday, July 11 is First Responders Day, with free parking and free ice cream for all fire, rescue, police and medical emergency responders who keep the Mid-Shore community safe.

At 6 p.m. “Rugged Responders” is a challenge competition, held at the fair’s horse show ring. Teams of responders will show off their physical fitness and skills they need in the line of duty.

After the responder teams finish showing their prowess, the course open to members of the community who are up for the challenge.

The course includes the low crawl, heavy carries, chain link wall climb, cage crawl, teeter tunnels and other trials. The obstacle course is the work of Tardigrade Obstacle Course Racing in Cordova.

There are separate divisions for kids, adults and first responders. A cash prize will be awarded to the department of the First Responder winner.

First Responders Day is sponsored by Fred Frederick of Easton and the Talbot County Fire and Rescue Association’s retention committee.

This year a series of beautifully painted Adirondack chairs were commissioned as a fundraiser by the fair and have been on display throughout the county this summer, each an artistic creation rendered by a local artist and sponsored by a local business.

Bidding on the chairs begins at the fair in the silent auction at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11, and lasts until 6 p.m. July 13. Those who cannot attend the fair may bid online by messaging on the fair’s Facebook page.

At 6 p.m. on July 13 the live auction will begin. Proceeds from the sale of chairs will benefit scholarships for local students in FFA and 4-H. The woodworkers at Pop’s Market in Trappe made the fundraiser possible.

And speaking of art, children and adults alike who would like to try plein air painting will get a chance every day at the fair through the efforts of the St. Michaels Art League, which is providing acrylic paints, panels and brushes, plus instruction on how to render farm animals in their natural settings.

Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The efforts will culminate in a show on Saturday afternoon of farm animal work in the picnic pavilion. Prizes will be awarded by popular vote.

The Art League’s contributions to the fair are made possible by the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Other events on Thursday include the Dog Show at 3 p.m.; the Market Hog Show at 4 p.m.; official fair opening ceremonies at 5 p.m.; and the 4-H Ambassador Program followed by their baked goods benefit auction in the Collier pavilion at 6 p.m.

The Thursday dinner for sale will be barbecued pulled pork in the Spies building.

Thursday is also Chick-fil-A Night with the giving out of free coupons for chicken sandwiches while supplies last.

Friday, July 12, is Children’s Day at the fair, sponsored by Chick-fil-A of Easton. There will be free coupons for youngsters.

The “Imagination Station” will feature special kids’ activities, “cool crafts,” fingerprinting fun and creating things with legos. “Imagination Station” is open every day during the fair.

Other features for kids include the Party Animals Petting Zoo and Marty’s Flea Circus show, also open every day at the fair.

Friday’s livestock shows include the Poultry Show at 10 a.m.; the Goat Show at 11:30 a.m.; and the Dairy Show at 6:30 p.m. The 4-Fashion Show, featuring clothes sewn by 4-Hers, is at 5:30 p.m.

Friday’s dinner for sale is pit beef sponsored by Talbot County Young Farmers.

Evening entertainment features the Dorchester Swingers Square Dancing group at 8 p.m.

Saturday is “Thank a Farmer Day,” sponsored by Fred Frederick Ag RAM.

Fairgoers can pay tribute by signing the “Thank a Farmer Wall.”

Livestock shows begin early with the Rabbit and Cavy Show at 9 a.m.; Sheep Show at 10 a.m.; and the Dairy Steer and Beef Cattle Show at 1 p.m.

The Jousting Tournament begins at 1 p.m.; Horse Palooza begins at 2 p.m.; Watermelon Eating Contest begins at 2 p.m.; and Cow Chip Bingo begins at 5 p.m.

Saturday’s dinner is barbecued chicken, with serving beginning at 4 p.m.

The last event of the fair is the Youth Livestock Auction at 7 p.m. Saturday.

For all three days of the fair, the Ruritans’ food concession opens at 10 a.m. Games and amusements at the community midway are sponsored by Tri-Gas & Oil.

The fair is open until 10 p.m. every night.

Proceeds from the fair benefit the Talbot County Agriculture and Education Center, which serves the agricultural culture and heritage of the county.

For more information and the full fair schedule, visit talbotcountyfair.org.

Follow me on Twitter @chrisp_stardem. Email me at cpolk@stardem.com.

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