State Fair Makes An Enthusiastic Return With Food, Rides And Music
The state fair has been a staple of West Virginia since its designation in 1941.
This year is no different, even after the pandemic closed it last year — just the second time in its history.
This past week, people have flocked to the fairgrounds in Fairlea from all corners of the state, for food, a Ferris Wheel, animals and live music.
For many, this year's fair is more than just a good time, it’s an essential stop on the fair circuit. Kelly Collins, the fair's chief executive officer, says that although shutting down last year was the right thing to do, it was a tough decision.
“Professionally, there’s a lot of people that struggled because there was no state fair last year," Collins said. She grew up coming to the fair and has been heading it since 2015.
The event, which continues through Aug. 21, brings vendors from all over the U.S. like Derek Porter from Salisbury, North Carolina. He runs the corn stand.
“This is what I do for a living. I travel and work state fairs,” Porter said.
The pandemic cost him last year’s income. And with cases surging again across the country, he worries about future shows. For now, he's glad that he was able to put up his stand in West Virginia.
This year’s state fair tag line, “Brighter Days are Here,” goes to show the organizers' and vendors' optimism about opening for business. But what about fair-goers? Few chose to wear masks this year but some have concerns over the COVID-19 surge.
Toby Laferriere, who’s fully vaccinated, worries about the delta variant. “It is a little iffy, especially when you know there are certain people in West Virginia who refuse to get the vaccine," Laferriere said.
For parents with childhood memories of the fair, bringing their kids is an important tradition. Aaron Bailey has been coming to the fair since he was 12. Now a father of three, he came straight work so his children could visit and have the same memories.
“It’s one of the great things West Virginia has to offer, especially for children, "Bailey said.
Although the jury’s still out on its impact on West Virginia with cases of the virus, residents and out-of-staters alike have turned out in full force for this year’s fair.