Congratulations are in order for the Washington County Fair and all of those who volunteer countless hours of their time each year to make it happen.

The 2019 fair won the award for Best Fair in Virginia in its class — fairs with more than 30,000 in attendance — at the recent 2020 Virginia Association of Fairs annual conference in Hot Springs.

It’s the second time the local fair has won the top award, according to a recent story in the Washington County News. The other time was for 2017.

At the conference, the 2019 fair also won seven blue ribbons, three red ribbons and four white ribbons in the association’s communications awards, including four Best in Show awards.

The local fair won the Best in Show awards for a T-shirt designed for the fair, an information booklet and a magazine advertisement, all of which were organized by fair committee members, and for a fair scrapbook created by board member Janet Lester of Glade Spring, the newspaper story noted.

Fair officials said the Washington County Fair’s continuing success is fueled by the hundreds of volunteers who give their time and money to further the annual fair’s mission: promoting agriculture, rural living, agribusiness and support for Washington County.

“It’s really a group effort,” Shauna Reynolds, secretary for the fair’s board of directors, told the newspaper. “If it were not for our volunteers, the fair wouldn’t happen. We love our community and want to see agriculture and entertainment come to town.”

Fair officials also paid tribute to longtime fair volunteer organizer Charles M. Meade of Abingdon, who died on Dec. 29. In his obituary, it was noted that he “was one of the organizers of the Washington County Fairgrounds and served in director, manager, and volunteer positions for over 50 years.”

“If it were not for Charles and Irene Meade, we might not have a county fair,” board member Jennifer Berry Blankenship said. “They have spent so much of their time and energy toward the fair year after year.”

The local fair is held during the second week of September each year at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Abingdon.

According to its website, for the past 70 years the fair has hosted a variety of events and fun activities, such as music concerts, livestock shows, horse shows, a demolition derby, a truck pull, carnival rides, commercial and educational exhibits, arts and crafts displays and a petting zoo. There is also a variety of food sold during the six-day event.

The fair also includes special days for seniors and children.

Volunteers are already at work planning this year’s fair, including lining up the entertainment acts for the event, the story said.

The Washington County Fair is a perfect example of a community coming together to create a special event that benefits virtually everyone.

“It brings in revenue for the town and the county,” Blankenship said. “However, in order to pull off this weeklong event, volunteers must work months in advance.”

And it’s a purely volunteer effort, she said.

“A lot of people think the Washington County Fair is owned by Washington County, but it’s not,” Blankenship said. “It’s a nonprofit organization. Everything we do is accomplished by volunteers. Volunteers are a vital part of the success of our fair.”

That’s why the Best Fair in Virginia award means so much.

These aren’t paid professional fair organizers. They are our friends and neighbors who band together to create a fun, educational and entertaining experience for a special week each September.

They deserve our thanks and our continuing support for their efforts.

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