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Why don’t Brunswick and Pender counties have a county fair?

Amy Hotz

After several calls to Pender County and Brunswick County workers, who couldn’t answer this question, a call to Skip Watkins shed some light on a few possible reasons.

Watkins helps organize the Cape Fear Fair & Expo in New Hanover County, which has been around for 45 years (albeit originally under the name “New Hanover County Fair”).

His response? Fairs require a lot of organization, space, money and infrastructure. The N.C. Department of Agriculture also has a lot of requirements, rules and regulations for sanctioned fairs.

“People don’t realize what it really takes to start one,” he said. “Our facility itself, people don’t realize it but there’s $300,000 worth of water, sewer and electricity into the ground. You have to have the ability to fund the fair to start it off. But, in theory, if someone in Pender or Brunswick wanted to . . . an organization in that county could be formed and in theory they could have their own fair.”

Natalie Alford with the N.C. Department of Agriculture confirmed this. Requirements for sanctioned fairs can be viewed at www.NCAgFairs.org by clicking “Laws and Forms.”

Watkins also said most established carnival ride companies already have a full route, so it may be difficult to find a company to provide rides.

“It would be a tremendous undertaking,” he said, regarding starting a fair from scratch.

But it’s not impossible. Surprisingly, according to Alford, for the first time anyone can remember, three new fairs started this year in North Carolina, one in Fayetteville, one in Lillington and one in Madisson County.

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4 Responses to “ Why don’t Brunswick and Pender counties have a county fair?”

  1. On November 1, 2009 at 9:54 am Bill Barnhill wrote:

    Pender County, at one time, had a County Fair. I know this because, as a young boy, I attended the fair.

    My uncle, some 3 years older than I, used to enter his home grown apples and he won numerous ribbons for them.

    It’s funny, I haven’t thought about the county fair in Pender County for over 45 years.

  2. On November 17, 2009 at 11:27 am Lauren wrote:

    Brunswick county had a small carnival for a couple of years when I was a child. Im 19 now. They were in Southport. One of my vivid childhood memories =)

  3. On March 20, 2010 at 8:14 am wayne clark wrote:

    I’m not sure when the last one was held, probably the late 60’s, but Pender County had a fair for many years, long before New Hanover. I went every year from 1955 until 1967, when I graduated high school. I remember,they had a “greasy pig contest.” They also had a stage show each night. On Friday night, was a beauty contest crowning Miss Pender County. It was a fun time. Not sure why it ended.

  4. On April 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm NEPender wrote:

    It would be nice for Pender County to once again have its OWN Agricultural Fair. Now, in order to take part of such an event one has to drive to the airport in Wilmington or the fairgrounds in Jacksonville.

    I still go to the county fair back home every chance I get, and that is almost 2 hours away. Every part of the county is there, Fire Departments, EMS, The Moose Lodge, Kiwanis, Ruritans, and all sorts of other communuity groups have something to do with it.

    I do not like Wilmington all that much, nor do I like Jacksonville during the weekends that the military personnel get paid. Either way you go, you have to stand in long lines or deal with long waits just to grab a quick meal or a snack.

    I would love for Pender County to have its own fair again, and I would definitely attend. I doubt anything like this will happen, as Pender County seems to have some organizational problems, and they seem to rely on all of the other counties around them for everything, even water. (Most of the drinking water for the Rocky Point-Topsail Water District comes from Wallace, except for a small portion at Dee Run, Creek Estates and Gabes Point that comes from the Town of Surf City.)

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