Columbus County fair kicks off with huge parade in Whiteville

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s the fall, which means it’s time for the Columbus County Agriculture Fair. The 41st annual event kicked off Monday with a parade in Whiteville.

This year’s fair comes after festivities were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no vaccine or mask mandate, although masks and social distancing are recommended by organizers.

Monday’s parade saw participation by JROTC, a marching band, first responders, cheerleaders, elected officials, and many more.

Spectators lined the streets of downtown Whiteville to take it all in. Columbus County Cooperative Extension director Dalton Dockery says participation was greater than it had been in quite some time.

“We have not had this many floats or entries in the parade for at least 15-16 years,” Dockery said. “In this particular parade we had well over 70 maybe, typically we’d have 25-30.”

Teachers from Columbus Charter School were among the spectators, cheering on students who got a float of their own.

“They are so excited, they love it,” said teacher Michelle Hammond. “An excuse to ride and throw candy, that’s what they’re all about.”

After a year lost due to the pandemic, some in the community are ready to make up for lost time.

“People are super excited,” Hammond said. “I think it’s something that we can finally come together and do as a community, and do safely.”

Although the fair has plenty of rides, games, and different activities, agriculture is the primary focus.

“We’re also going to have a livestock show,” Dockery said. “We have not had a livestock show in 17 years. So that’s something that the cooperative extension along with the farmers and the fair board wanted to bring back.”

Dockery says in addition to boosting morale, the fair is expected to provide another much needed boost.

“One of the biggest things in terms of the fair and the parade itself from my point of view is the economic boost, it brings us together,” he said. “Especially with COVID and everything that’s going on now, it’s good to see people sort of get back out, but of course we want to follow all COVID protocols, and we want to stress that we want to have fun but we want to be safe.”

The fair officially opens at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and closes at 8:00 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $8, which includes gate admission, exhibits, live entertainment, livestock shows, and all contests. Wristbands for rides are $20. Demolition derby tickets are $3. Children five years old and younger get in free.

Thursday is half price night with $4 admission and $16 wristbands. On Sunday, groups can pay by the carload. Gates open at 1:00 p.m. at $40 per carload.

For more information, you can visit the fair website or Facebook page.

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